Sunday, May 22, 2011


The photo above shows a small freighter, moored on a buoy off Erith Pier a couple of days ago. Many people seem to ignore / forget that Erith is a maritime town with a long history of shipping and the sea.

Some time in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Maggot Sandwich received its' 30,000th unique visitor. Blogger tracks readers by IP address and domain, and generates reports on the back end control panel to enable the blog writer to have a pretty detailed idea of who is reading their content, where they are in the world, and what technology platform they are using to view the blog. I get hits from all over the world – a majority are in the UK and former colonies, but I get hits from Moldova, Iraq, Iran, India (hello Siva!) and Bolivia, amongst others. I reckon I have three or four hundred regular readers, and the remains of the hits are from casual viewers, and Google searches for key words and photos which result from the metadata I embed with each blog entry. Still, the 30,000 hit mark is not a bad target to have reached since I started logging page views just under a year ago.

Defenestration – the act of murder by throwing the victim from a high window. It is a very strange and thankfully rare crime. Unfortunately it happened in Erith on Thursday evening. Ian was driving along North End Road at the time, and earlier described seeing many Police vehicles on the scene at Orchard House, off North End Road. When I asked him how many were on site he said "all of them, I think!" Two people have been arrested for apparently pushing a man out of an 8th floor window. He did not survive. You can read more about the story on the News Shopper website here. unfortunately there is not much in the way of detail on the story at the time of writing.

South East London is being targetted by the producers of “Come Dine with Me”. They are looking to recruit deluded self publicists who are willing to be pilloried on reality TV. I find it hard to understand what kind of person would be willing to allow themselves to be set up in such a calculating way. I suppose that it takes all sorts.

From not long after 6am on any working day, the roads of Erith are dominated by scrap vans – you know the sort; they are usually Ford Transits with a flat load carrying back, with an added cage to contain the load. City Scrap Ltd are the most commonly seen – they appear to travel in convoys, and it is quite common to see three or four of them in quick succession - their local office is at 68 Holstein Way. I am a big fan of recycling, and a lot of these people “on the scrap” do a vital job. The problem, as always is the people who operate on the periphery of the trade. There are a lot of unlicenced, illegal operators in the business, which due to the current high metal scrap prices, can make a lot of cash relatively easily. On Wednesday evening I was walking along by the junction of James Watt Way and Queens' Road (see the photo above) when an obscenely overloaded scrap van did a left turn into Queens' Road – a large section of galvanised steel railing fell off the huge pile on the back of the vehicle and landed in the road, right on the junction. The driver was oblivious to this, and continued on his way. The railing then got driven over by the following traffic, causing untold damage to the vehicles. The illegal “scrappies” also have been known to steal metal of all sorts; something I almost fell victim to late last year. I had my central heating refurbished, and a brand new boiler installed. Part of the refurbishment process involved removing one of the large radiators in my front room, and then pressure flushing the entire system to remove rust and crud from the radiators and pipe work. The radiator that was temporarily removed from the heating circuit was taken into my front garden, where it to was pressure flushed and given a good clean. It was then placed on a tarpaulin under my front window. Despite the fact that Swale Heating had two sign written vans parked out front, and five heating engineers on the site, and it was blatantly obvious that plumbing work was being undertaken, in the space of roughly two hours, I had a total of seven scrap dealers try to take it away. A couple had the good grace to ask if they could take it (as previously mentioned, they are not all bad, by any mark), but three just came into the front garden unbidden and were on the point of picking it up when I intercepted them. One in particular was especially vocal, saying it was his “right” to take it, and how else was he meant to feed his children? I pointed out that he would be guilty of theft, as well as the civil offence of trespass, and that I could easily prove it in a court of law, as he was being recorded by two high definition CCTV cameras even as we spoke – he looked startled, then quickly scuttled off without so much as a by your leave.

In case you were wondering what the significance of the rather bland photo above is, it is by way of illustration, it shows the view from Mottisfont Road in Abbey Wood; last week I reported on the case of Samantha Armstrong, who appeared in court after indulging in sexual activity with a small group of 14 and 15 year old boys in the aforementioned road, in full view of the occupants of passing trains. Since the last report, she has been found guilty and sentenced to a three year community supervision order and ordered to pay £75 in court costs. Why was she not imprisoned and made to sign the sex offenders register? If it had been a man sexually assaulting a minor of either sex, it would have been an almost automatic custodial sentence. Why should a woman be treated differently? However eager the boys were to take part, they were still legally children, and it does seem that this vital fact seems to have been overlooked by the court. The sex of the offender should bear no part in the nature of the sentence, once found guilty in a court of law. You can read more about the legal case by clicking here.

Erith Station has now had the scaffolding that has surrounded it for the last four months removed; it was immediately apparent, however, that not all of the remedial work had actually been completed.  the windows on the upper frontage have not been repaired - it looks like they were just ignored. Once again the authorities have employed contractors who appear to have done a half arsed job. No surprises there then. One amusing thing I noticed when walking through the ticket office on Friday morning, was the large notice in the window of the railway clerk. It announced in 22 point Times New Roman text "Don't forget to cancel the milk - the World ends tomorrow!"Ah, the wit. I see that there has been plenty of press coverage of the end of the world doomsters - we get this kind of story from one or other group of nutters on a semi regular basis. I wonder what excuse the leader of the doomsday cult will come up with now?

Nandos in Bexleyheath, opposite the Clock Tower has signs in the windows announcing that it is opening on the 1st of June. The place looks finished, shop fitted and with all the furniture and decorations already in place. I am guessing that the remaining time is being used to carry out staff training, and doing a few test runs on the kitchen prior to opening. The Caribbean Kitchen opposite shows absolutely no signs of ever opening, and I think we can safely say that it is completely dead in the water as far as being a financially viable project is concerned.

The local press are currently highlighting something that I have commented on several times in the recent past; as can be seen from the photo above, which shows a badly spelled and deceptive leaflet which came through my letter box a while back. There are a number of nefarious companies semi masquerading as charities. They leaflet local areas, requesting donations of clothes and shoes, ostensibly to help the poor in third world areas; the donated clothing is however then sold on commercially. There is a story about it currently showing in the News Shopper, which you can read here.  I have been banging on about these criminal fraudsters for the last couple of years - you heard it here first.

I had an Email from Linda Piper, reporter for the aforementioned News Shopper earlier this week; she kindly corrected a statement I made in last weeks' update. She wrote: "Just to let you know..... re the Belvedere link road story. The incinerator has permission to take only 85,000 tonnes of rubbish by road, the rest has to come via the river, hence its deep water jetty. Bexley signed a contract in 2009 which will see all of Bexley's unrecycled rubbish go to the incinerator. Bexley says this will take up practically all of the 85,000 tonne quota, so it will be Bexley's lorries using the link road to get to the incinerator, not Richmond's". So that's me corrected then. I must admit that I was unaware of the Bexley waste arrangement, but then Linda is a professional journalist, and I am just an amateur scribbler.

Earlier this week I boarded a train at Greenwich station, on my daily journey to Plumstead to visit Dad. I noticed that at the other end of the carriage were a group of 14 or 15 blokes, all dressed in quite smart grey two piece single breasted suits. They all had large sports bags with them - at first I thought that they were a group of salesmen - as Sky TV sometimes target specific areas with sales people that go from door to door trying to sign up hapless individuals for their satellite TV service. As I looked curiously on I noticed that most of them seemed to be tanned (whether from the sun or a bottle, I am not qualified to judge) and several had expensive looking hair cuts. When the train pulled in to Charlton station, they all got off. It was then the penny dropped - it was the Charlton football team. What they were doing on public transport I do not know, I would have thought that they would have travelled en masse by coach - but maybe the manager is trying to save a few quid. My knowledge of football could be fitted in a small matchbox, without taking the matches out first. I have never seen the attraction of watching twenty blokes chasing madly round after an inflated pigs' bladder for ninety minutes, then jumping in the bath together, but, as I always say, if it works for you.

Another photo from my album; this shot show a very skinny and hairy me on the foredeck of the M.V Ross Revenge in the summer of 1990. At the time of the photo being taken, I had been at sea for roughly three months. I was presenting the overnight album rock show on Radio Caroline. Click on the photo for  a larger version.

I see that TV series Misfits is up for several awards this week; I don't watch it personally - the idea of a bunch of chavs with super powers strikes me as wrong on so many levels that I really would rather not think about it. There is a strong local connection with the show, however, as it is filmed on location in Thamesmead, using some of the same locations as the Clockwork Orange did. I understand that the series is mean to be set in the same kind of dystopian environment as the classic Stanley Kubrick movie. The irony is that the most stark and brutal parts of Thamesmead, the area around Tavy Bridge are in the process of redevelopment. It may mean that the town is no longer suitable as a setting for the series, which would be supremely ironic indeed.

Although I work in high technology, you could not call me an early adopter; for example, I still have an old fashioned CRT (cathode ray tube) television - the Toshiba 36ZP48 as shown above, rather than a flat screen display. The reason? My old 36" telly may now be ten years' old, but it still works fine - and I have no use for 3D, and I think that high definition is vastly overrated. I will replace the television when it breaks and not before. I don't buy stuff just because it is there - I need to have a good reason. The other  point is, if I ever got burgled (if they got past my passive and active security systems, something not very likely) they would either not bother to take the TV, or it would be easy to find them later, as the television weighs 75 kilos - you would be looking for a burglar with a truss and a slipped disk.

The video this week comes courtesy of Maggot Sandwich reader Bob, who sent it to me last night. I have seen video tours of the International Space Station before, but this one is easily the best of the bunch. Have a look and let me know what you think - comments below, as always.


  1. Congrats on your latest readership stats. Well deserved - may they continue to grow.

    My stance on football very much corresponds with your own, but I have rarely seen it expressed so fully, yet succinctly:

    'I have never seen the attraction of watching twenty blokes chasing madly round after an inflated pigs' bladder for ninety minutes, then jumping in the bath together'.

    says it all for me.

    I especially like the implication that due to the inherent misbehaviour native to the aforesaid aficionados, that two have already been sent off :D



  2. The Beast of BelvedereMonday, May 23, 2011 2:45:00 pm

    Misfits also filmed some scenes on top of the Bexley College Tower, Erith Road, the Beast's "stomping ground".

  3. Hi Gerard,

    The reason I only mentioned twenty men chasing the ball was not because any had been sent off, but because as I understand it, the goal keepers at each end of the pitch are not meant to run around after the ball. Good point though. I seem to recall that the producers of "Misfits" got into some hot water with the police when they last filmed on the roof of Bexley College, as they had neglected to tell anyone that a bunch of actors and a film crew would be on the roof, and someone called the police!

    Thanks for your kind words.



  4. Hi, Hugh and Gerard.

    What I like about football is that it takes large chunks of the population well away from the places where I want to be on Saturdays, Sundays and some weekday evenings!