Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Belmarsh Express.

The photo above was taken by me yesterday afternoon, round at the back of Morrison's car park, adjacent to the river. It has been rumoured for some time that they wanted to extend their opening hours, and here finally is the smoking gun. Morrison's in Erith have now formally applied to the Council for permission to extend their opening hours. The actual situation is slightly different to that I outlined the other week; the hours they wish to open are from 6am until Midnight, seven days a week - click on the photo above for a larger view. This would apparently include the alcoholic drinks sales, though details in this regard are still a little vague. I do wonder what effect this will have on the local gangs of feral kids, who are wont to hang around the supermarket at all hours – will this be a prompt for them to increase their criminal activities? There does not seem to have been much in the way of analysis into the effects of longer opening hours on crime and anti social behaviour in the local area. It will be something to monitor and observe. I do note that licence applications are meant to be displayed in plain sight, whereas this was sneaked round the back of the store by the river side residences in Wharfside Close (see the photo below for an idea of the location) in a part that few people use. It is a bit on the sneaky side, I feel.

On Tuesday of this week I witnessed an event that was both coincidental and timely. I had just got on the 380 bus in Woolwich (known locally as the Belmarsh Express, due to its' final destination). I sat down and waited as the other passengers boarded. A woman in a full Burkha got on and showed the driver some kind of season ticket, with an accompanying photo card. The driver looked at it, then at her and said she would have to remove her face covering in order for him to be able to identify her; she refused, and for thirty seconds or so there was a stand off, with a couple of passengers grumbling. The woman eventually gave up and got off the bus. This echoes the current rather confused and awkward legal situation in France, where they have enacted a law banning the covering of the face in public, but the authorities seem somewhat shy of actually enforcing it. I am pretty much a civil libertarian, with the view you should be able to do what you like, providing it causes no distress or harm to others. It strikes me that the wearing of costumes deliberately designed to conceal the identity is something that sends a statement from the wearer that they don't want to be a part of the society - they stand apart as “other”. If the desire for separation is so strong, it strikes me that perhaps the individual would be more comfortable in another society.

Google Earth / Google Maps have re - photographed the Erith area, and have just made the new images available online. The original scans were from 2006 and were beginning to look a little long in the tooth; the updated imagery is now less than a couple of months old. You can see Erith River Front Gardens and a portion of the town, courtesy of Google in the photo above - click on the image above for a larger view. The campaign to preserve and protect Erith Riverside Gardens is gaining both pace and publicity. The latest proposals by the Council have been once again thrown out by FORGE (Friends Of Riverside Gardens Erith) and several of the local residents associations. It does seem that Bexley Council are incapable of recognising the desire for Erith people to keep full access to the river front – they don't want the unique river front views and access to the Riverside Gardens to be removed. It is the one area of Erith that no other part of the Borough can offer. After meeting with the Police last week, it would appear that the Erith Police Office should be opening shortly. It has been ready for use for some time, but I gather that internal Met politics have caused the delays. More details as they become available. For more about local security and policing issues, do check out the Erith Watch website here.

Last week was the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight. Pioneering cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was in reality little more than a passenger in spacecraft Vostok 1 – his capsule was remotely controlled from the ground; in his own words he was “ a human monkey”. Though much credit must be given to his grit and bravery. To commemorate the anniversary, there was a musical duet between astronaut Catherine Coleman on the International Space Station, and Ian Anderson of progressive folk rock combo Jethro Tull on the ground. You can see a short video of the event below.With all the talk of space and space anniversaries, NASA are currently coming to an end of their project to find homes for the remaining fleet of Space Shuttles. Most are being donated to museums and educational institutions. They are all offered with rather high mileages, and I don't know what the warranty arrangements are. One might make a good subject for a Wheeler Dealers makeover maybe?

Bexleyheath Broadway is undergoing some changes; the old double shop fronted building opposite the Clock Tower is currently being fitted out as a Nandos restaurant. I passed it recently and there was a great deal of work being carried out by a group of shop fitters. Conversely, on the opposite corner, by the bus stands, the old Lloyd's Bar One, later RSVP site has for months been plastered in posters advertising that it will shortly be opening as a Caribbean Kitchen Afro Caribbean restaurant. The posters originally gave an opening date at the end of March; now the posters say the end of April, though looking through the windows, very little fitting out work appears to have happened, and the little furniture inside is the same stuff used by the previous owners. I think the venture shows all the classic signs of being doomed from the outset. There appears to have been very little financial investment, little will to get the necessary development work completed, and an ever changing opening date. Whilst all this time has passed, the large commercial franchise concern that is Nandos have moved in and are almost ready to open, right on the doorstep of the mooted Caribbean kitchen. The local metal thieves have also been busy – stealing the copper mains power cables from the transformer station to the rear of the building. This is quite ironic, when one considers the proximity to Bexleyheath Police station. 

The photo below shows Shirley on the sofa at my Mum's house, which was taken earlier in the week; she's showing a daring new look (she was feeing cold) - she was sporting a black top with a matching wrap, along with black jeans, accessorised with pink thermal socks (courtesy of Mum) and a rather familiar looking Harris Tweed jacket, which looks big enough for her to move into, rather than wear...

Bexley Beer Festival 2011 is being held on the 28th to the 30th April at Sidcup Sports Centre. Unfortunately I missed last years' event, which by all accounts was exceedingly well attended. To be honest, I feel the event has now outgrown the venue, and needs to find a larger home, with facilities to match; I for one do not like having to visit a Turdis when I feel the need to pump the bilges. For some reason Bexley CAMRA have not managed to negotiate the use of the sports centre's own toilets for the last couple of years, and festival visitors have been compelled to use the portaloos in the car park. Further details of the event are below - click for a larger view.

On a similar vein, the St. Georges' Day celebrations are happening next Saturday evening from 7.30pm onwards at the Robin Hood & Little John in Lion Road, Bexleyheath. There will be traditional Morris Dancers and all sorts of festivities. You can see photos of last years' celebration by clicking here.

I see that once again the Thamesmead located Crossness Pumping Station is featuring in a movie; the Grade One listed building has already been featured in the Tim Burton version of Batman, Alien, Sherlock Holmes and now a TV series called The Crimson Petal and the White. You can read further details on the Bexley Times website here. I have visited the place in the past; it is indeed fascinating from both a historical and an engineering viewpoint. The only problem is, it is located in the middle of one of the largest sewerage works in Greater London, and it does rather whiff of poo.

The photo above shows close friend, fellow ex Picardy School pupil and senior Army officer Steve Fraser. I took the picture back in October 2008 when he was awarded the MBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. I was exceedingly chuffed to find out this morning that he has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, effective from the 11th September. If he does carry out his plan to eventually become a science teacher, I pity any future pupil of his who steps out of line...

The main video this week is a nearly fifteen minutes long preview of the mega $60 million budget HBO Fantasy thriller series "Game of Thrones" which starts in the UK tomorrow night on Sky Atlantic. Basically it is Lord of the Rings meets the Sopranos (indeed several of the Sopranos writing team are behind the show). It features an excellent cast, led by Sean Bean, who plays Nobleman Ned Stark. It looks good, but very gory, if this excerpt is anything to go by. I would give the clip a miss if you are not in the mood for a little Dungeons and Dragons style blood and guts. Otherwise, dig in and see what you think - leave a comment below, which will be moderated and published within 24 hours. I hate spammers, so have been forced to enable comment moderation.


  1. Both your embedded videos are the same Yuri Gagarin ones! link needs changing for the second one.(see some people do actually take notice to your posts!!)


  2. Another nice read, RSPV was a Yates though, the soulless Lloyds is still alive a kicking over the road last time I checked.

  3. Hi M.J - I don't think I have any relatives with the name Kirk, I am afraid - what is the context?