Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sizzling Korai.

The photo above shows the mural that was originally located on the side wall of the old Erith Riverside Swimming Baths, now demolished. Before the building was knocked down, the mural was removed and restored to its' former glory, and last year it was installed in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, next to the Blockbuster. Strangely, for something so colourful and imposing, it does seem to get largely ignored - this is evidenced by the fact that it has not attracted any graffiti or vandal damage. More on the old Erith swimming baths later on.

Woolwich town centre has some of the most excellent policing I have recently seen. Earlier in the week, I was waiting at the bus stop opposite Woolwich Arsenal Station for a bus to take me to Dad's nursing home, when a woman was clipped by a single decker bus whilst crossing the road - she had not been looking where she was going, and to be honest, the liberties taken by pedestrians in the area really astound me; I would have thought accidents were an almost daily occurrence, in the way many people run across the busy road with little or no consideration of the passing traffic. Anyway, the woman was knocked sideways on the pavement directly outside of Woolwich Arsenal Station; within thirty seconds or so, there were two Police officers, and three PCSO's attending the scene. They stopped the traffic, covered her with a thermal blanket, gave her first aid and called an ambulance. Woolwich is very well staffed with Police - if the same thing had happened in Erith, I suspect that the result would have been somewhat different - the resources allocated to the area are not nearly as comprehensive. Erith Police office is still empty and unused some months after it was completed, and the Safer Neighbourhood teams are still stuck in their isolated cubby holes around the ward; it will be so much better when they are amalgamated and working as a larger integrated team. You can see details of the local security and policing situation by visiting the Erith Watch website here.

I was most annoyed to hear this week that Erith's nearest equivalent to the Mos Eisley Cantina - that is Potion Bar (its' own hive of scum and villainy) has managed somehow to avoid losing its' licence, and will be allowed to continue trading. This short sighted and naive decision by the local council licencing committee will almost certainly come back to bite them (and us) on the bum; I give it a year at most. You can read more about the calamitous decision in the Bexley Times here. The place is a hotbed of crime and lager drinking. Comments below, if you please.

Ian photographed the Jaguar MkII pictured above, parked in a side street off Fraser Road a week or so ago; it is pleasing to see a classic car in what appears to be excellent condition. A vehicle of taste and quality.

As reported last week, the clean up of the Erith Riverside Gardens foreshore was a great success; much of the credit needs to go to Brian Silk of the Friends Of Riverside Gardens Erith (FORGE) and his hard work and enterprise. You may not be aware, but Brian is also webmaster of the Erith Town information website.

I took my Mother out for a slightly early Mother's Day treat yesterday; we went for a long overdue lunch time curry at the Spice Master restaurant in Belvedere Village (don't call it Nuxley Village within her earshot - it is a bugbear of hers that the local estate agents have been erroneously thus naming the place for many years, to the point when some locals even use the incorrect name). Anyway, I was a little nervous at hitting a high street curry house at lunch time; the few that do open for lunch often have buffet style offerings, with curries and rice kept warm on heaters - the food is often stale and reheated from the previous evening. Although the place was very quiet, we were shown to a table and asked if we would like poppadoms and dips. These were delivered within a couple of minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had been freshly prepared (papads / poppadoms go soft within when stood for an hour or so after frying, as the gram flour they are made from absorbs water from the atmosphere - it is a easy way to tell if they are freshly made or not - I should know - I used to be a mystery reviewer for the Good Curry Guide). Drinks turned up promptly, as did menus. The menu folder appeared to be made out of some strange wood laminate - I reckon they had got some weird kind of deal with the local hardware shop across the road. Mum ordered a lamb curry with pilau rice; I went for a chicken korai with mushroom pilau rice, a garlic naan and a shared bowl of tarka dhaal. All of the food was exceptionally good, with large, well presented portions presented on elaborate themed plates; the theatre of the korai arriving in its' sizzling, almost red hot cast iron bowl was not lost on us (have you ever noticed when you are in an Indian restaurant, when anyone has such a dish delivered to their table, all heads turn in the direction of the delicious spicy sizzling sound and smell when the waiter delivers it to the lucky diner?) You can see the restaurant and the surrounding area of Belvedere Village on Google Street View below.

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I found out during the week that Erith Morrison's is planning on extending its' opening hours. It will be opening at 7am and staying open until 11pm, possibly seven days a week, although this is apparently still in debate. My source said that many staff are unhappy about it, not just from the extended hours they will be asked to work, but because they are worried about increased violent incidents. The shop has had problems with local gangs of feral chavs causing violence and mayhem both in the car park, and inside the store as well. There are concerns that by staying open until pub closing time will encourage more drink related incidents; apparently there are no plans to request an extension to the shops' drinks licence, and I have been told that staff are apprehensive - worried that there may be violence when a booze filled scrote comes into the store to buy more alcohol, only to be told that whilst they can buy general shopping, alcohol sales are not permitted after 10pm. This could prove interesting; it sounds like Morrison's management have not thought this one through properly.

I was extremely pleased to hear the news that the project to enable mobile phone usage on London's tube network has fallen through. The thought of being cooped up with yakking individuals underground is something that filled me with dread. Hearing the inane, repetitive and intrusive conversations that people have on the overground trains is bad enough - the tube would be the final straw. I cannot understand what many of these people find to talk about - the conversations I generally overhear are not last minute high level business deals, instructions on how to defuse a terrorist bomb, or urgent medical advice - they are domestic matters that could easily be left to a more convenient and less intrusive to others time.

Some time ago I highlighted the Radio Shack catalogue website. Someone has scanned every single page of all the U.S Radio Shack sales catalogues over the years, and put them on line. Some kind soul has done something equivalent for the UK on Flickr. They have scanned in every single page of the Argos catalogue from various years in the past and posted them online. The photo above is from the hifi section of the 1976 catalogue. I find it interesting to see how there is little or no mention of Japanese brands; at that point most of the companies were British or American - Ferguson, GEC, Fidelity and Decca are now all but forgotten brands, but back then they were big, well known high street names. You can see the whole catalogue selection online by clicking here. What strikes me is that most consumer electronics have become far cheaper in real terms nowadays than back then. I notice when looking at wrist watches, the prices in 1976 are about what you would expect to pay nowadays. When one factors in price inflation and wage rises, things back then were pretty expensive compared with today.

As you may be aware, as well as being a licenced radio amateur, I was also inducted into the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) in 1997. I have been a member ever since. The Society is a highly respected and regarded organisation with strong links with higher education, science and engineering, and has been at the forefront of telecommunication and information technology research for the last 98 years. This august organisation has just been having internal issues that may mean that the governing board will have to be removed and re-elected. It was announced this week that the RSGB General Manager, Peter Kirby was leaving the organisation. Here is the announcement in full:

Peter Kirby leaves RSGB

Peter Kirby, RSGB General Manager, has left the Society's employment after the discovery of financial irregularities on his part. For the time being, RSGB Director Don Beattie, G3BJ, will act as General Manager. The announcement was made by RSGB President Dave Wilson on 28 March 2011. You can read the 28 March 2011 announcement at

So it would seem that he had his fingers in the till - the old story of expenses fiddling. you can read more about the alleged background to the story by clicking here. There are another set of views on the case here too. Why is it these cases either involve sex or cash? You figure.

Gary Drew of Laser Hot Hits has been in Email contact with me this week; you will see some new radio related links on the right hand side of the screen - thanks to him for making me aware of these excellent new websites. Incidentally the Maggot Sandwich celebrated its' 25,000th unique page view this week. I am now getting an average of 150 hits per day from all around the world, which is way more than I ever envisaged. Thanks for all of the support.

Much has been made in letters to the local press in the last couple of weeks about the sheer amount of spare land available in Erith that does not involve the need to build on the Riverside Gardens. The general feeling is that there is a large mount of existing brown field land available for building already; the old swimming baths site opposite the gardens has been empty for a couple of years, the old Erith tram shed site, apparently fingered to be used for the revamped Bexley College is still empty, as is the huge expanse of unused land on the old gravel pit site sandwiched between Riverdale Road at the Pom Pom end of the town, and Bexley Road, on the way to Northumberland Heath. One could even stretch to the patch of land currently being used to corral the traveller pony in the space behind Morrison's car park. The list goes on. The level of woolly thinking involved in the developers plans really defies logic - it is patently obvious none of them live in the area, or really have any level of actual local understanding whatsoever.

I read in the press that two classic TV series are due to be remade; in both cases I question the desirability in so doing. The series are The Sweeney and The Professionals. Bear in mind the excruciatingly bad 1999 series CI5: The New Professionals which launched on Sky One to a chorus of indifference, and inevitable cancellation after a single series. I have my doubts as to whether either could be successfully relaunched today. The only point in favour of the Professionals remake is that it will be a big budget movie, produced by the team that rebooted Bond with Daniel Craig. You can read more about the production here. The Sweeney remake is due to be a TV show with Ray Winstone playing DI Jack Reagan. Further details here. I am not holding my breath regarding either venture, though it would be nice to be proved wrong.

The video this week is a new film about the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, a place that I strongly urge you to visit, should the opportunity arise. I have visited it once, and hope to go again in the very near future. Watch the video, and leave a comment below.

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