Sunday, June 12, 2011

Erith Watch.

The picture above shows a promotional flyer for the Erith Watch neighbourhood watch website; it was designed by Smallcorn Associates, an independent Erith based graphic design consultancy. Click on the photo for a larger and more detailed image. The flyer was produced to promote the website amongst the members of Bexley Neighbourhood Watch Association at their annual general meeting, held in the Council chamber at Bexley Council Offices in Bexleyheath on Friday evening. I attended the meeting with friend and local resident Mark, as we are both involved in running Erith Watch. Local MP and recently appointed Minister for Security, James Brokenshire was the special guest. Suffice to say the meeting went very well, with the exception that many delegates became restive towards the end of the event, as Bexley have introduced parking fees in public car parks on a 24/7 basis, and many who had arrived by car were concerned that their tickets were about to expire. Mr. Brokenshire is an eloquent, charismatic and quick witted politician whom I expect to go on to even greater things; he can certainly talk a good talk. How he delivers, we will have to wait and see. It was noticeable that Bexley Council, though they provided the venue, did not have a single representative at the meeting, which sent out a very negative message to the attendees. It also seemed to be a snub to the Minister. Not something I feel was wise; it always makes political sense to keep friends in court.

Please note that the Erith Watch website is purely factual in nature - whereas I may opine, hold forth and moan about events on the Maggot Sandwich, that is not the tone or the place for the community website that we aim Erith Watch to become. Please feel free to join the site, if you want to know more about law and order in the area - please note that all applications are moderated before being accepted; this normally takes less than 24 hours.

I see from the Bexley Times that the final public loo in the borough has been sold for £239,000 - way above the original estimate. The khazi (photo above), in Townley Road, adjacent to Bexleyheath Library, will now be redeveloped, though at present the exact intention of the new owner is unclear. I somehow think it unlikely that they will re-open it for the comfort and convenience of Bexleyheath's shoppers. There is now nowhere to pump your bilges or ride the porcelain bus in the entire borough. Most pubs or restaurants do not permit the public to enter purely to relieve themselves - what are we meant to do? It is not exactly clear what the policy now is; it is hardly socially acceptable or hygienic to use a bush or dark corner to relieve oneself, and you cannot hold on forever. I am wondering if any forward thinking entrepreneur has come up with some subtle and ingenious solution?

Google have been busy updating their aerial views of the local area; they have now updated Google Maps and some roads on Google Street View, but some parts of Erith are still using photos taken back in 2006. Below is a sample updated very recent overview shot of Erith Town Centre - click for a larger version.

I was pleasantly surprised to read in the press that the Wombles are to play Glastonbury this year. I think that a certain number of regular attendees probably think they are there every year, mainly due to the phenomenal quantity of recreational pharmaceuticals they habitually ingest. Nevertheless, I find it quite curious that festival organiser Michael Eavis regrets that they were included on the bill; I get the feeling, like Rolf Harris a few years ago, they will end up being the best thing on the bill, and a sleeper hit with the crowd. Anyway, on a slightly oblique theme, here is an excerpt from an episode from "Bottom" where the boys have gone camping on Wimbledon Common, only having forgotten to take any food with them. They are now wondering how many calories there are in a Womble...

Some Council contractors are keener than others on doing their jobs; I took the photograph below at 10pm on Thursday evening; it shows a grab lorry collecting some spoil after a hole was dug by the Gas Board on the Slade Green facing lane of Manor Road. The hole itself is still there, no doubt a number of workers will gather to stand around it, leaning on shovels and drinking tea, as is the traditional way with the British worker. The bulk of Manor Road still has a broken and cracked surface; the multi million pound resurfacing project conducted in July 2009 has seemingly failed in short order. I understand that the top layer of asphalt was a then new formula that was designed to have superior wet weather grip, and most importantly to reduce the amount of road noise from tyre rumble from the large number of passing commercial vehicles. Alas, the surface has cracked and crumbled under the incessant heavy goods traffic, and the whole road is in desperate need of being relaid. With council budgets being cut, I feel that this is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Now that the discount Furniture shop has closed down in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, the Nemesis Thai boxing gym is starting to take shape. It appears that the owners are partitioning off about one third of the floor area of the old shop to make a smaller, self contained unit to house the gym. The larger remaining part has posters in the window, announcing the forthcoming arrival of "Pound Town" - what would appear to be a discount goods store. I am a bit ambivalent about this - it is good to see the building in productive use, but is another outlet for cheap and tacky tat really the message that we want to be sending out about Erith?

I notice that the double shop unit opposite Argos in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre has been glazed and is now ready for fitting out; I surmise that it is booked and in preparation for use. I have not currently got a clue as to what company will be occupying the space - if you know, please drop me a line, or leave a comment below. I would like to see someone like John Lewis moving into the centre, but I think I am more likely to see Elvis riding Shergar down Fraser Road than for this to take place.

I am not much of a gamer; apart from an occasional session of "Angry Birds" I don't really play much on the computer - through a mixture of lack of time, and lack of ability. I have found a rather diverting online game called "Lord of Ultima" - it is a bit like Sim City / Civilisation, where you have to build up an empire in a pseudo Dungeons and Dragons kind of environment. The main difference is that it is entirely browser based, with nothing to install. The game is also free - you can buy add - ons and extras, which is how the supplier makes their money, but it is quite possible to play for absolutely nothing at all. It is also possible to "dip in and out" of the game as you see fit, and it does not appear to affect game play. You can see a screen capture of my own first city below. You can play Lord of Ultima yourself by clicking here.

The main video clip this week is a bit of a rarity. It is from Queen guitarist and top astronomer Dr. Brian May. In 1983 he had a solo project, and recorded a track inspired by the Japanese puppet / Manga television show "Starfleet" - which was itself heavily influenced by Gerry Anderson shows like Thunderbirds. Starfleet also influenced subsequent series such as "Transformers". Anyway, you can Google away if you want to know more about the background - the video, of quite stunning cheesiness, nevertheless is rather entertaining. You can see why Queen had Freddie Mercury as a front man - May is an excellent song writer, but here he lacks screen presence - the action speaks for itself though. Incidentally, as well as May, Eddie Van Halen also plays guitar on the track - it is quite obvious who plays which part, as they both have totally unique sounds. So here you are - two of the World's best guitarists playing on a music video featuring spaceships, lasers and flying robots - what's not to like?

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