Sunday, July 31, 2011

Polo Golf.

Some months ago I promised to publish a photograph of one of the new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 buses now running on the 99 route through Erith, between Woolwich and Bexleyheath. The problem  was, I had not actually taken any photos of the buses, which was pretty remiss, as they run past my front door every few minutes. Anyway, I determined to get out and take some bus related photos, and here is one of them. The 99 bus, stopped at the Bexleyheath bound bus stop outside of the Londis corner store in Manor Road, Erith. Click on it for a larger view.

Pound Town has now successfully opened in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre; I visited it earlier this week, and it certainly seems to have a very wide variety of stock, and seems to be attracting a lot of customers. The one overwhelming issue that comes to my mind however is that the place is incredibly hot and lacking in ventilation - it was an absolute oven in there on a not particularly warm day. I am concerned for the health and wellbeing of the staff and customers. The place was an absolute hothouse - they really need to sort out the environment for all of the inhabitants - it was intolerable during my short visit, and would definitely deter me from dropping in again. Some air conditioning or plain old fashioned ventilation is in order.

Over the last couple of weeks I have received some questions about what the Maggot Sandwich is, and what it is actually designed for. The Maggot Sandwich is a Blog. A Blog is an online journal / personal diary. In my case, the Maggot Sandwich is designed to be a mixture of local news and personal opinion, topped off with a few amusing interludes and quirky stuff I have found online. It is designed primarily to entertain, like a magazine - if you pick up a few local tips on the way, great. I rely on feedback and tip - off from local people in order to create the weekly content. Needless to say, I am not a professional journalist or writer. Lots of people create and maintain blogs - it is now a very common way to bring local community groups and like minded individuals together - or just to have a quick read, and hopefully a laugh or two. The Maggot Sandwich is now read weekly by over 41,000 people from all around the world, and has been featured by Sarah Hartley in the Guardian, the News Shopper, and on XFM radio. Local MP Teresa Pearce is an occasional reader, as are the staff of Bexley Council, the local Police, and a number of local media outlets - this is in addition to random people from all over the planet. The Maggot Sandwich was voted as one of the 50 top blogs in London in September 2010 at the national online conference held at the OFCOM offices on the South Bank. I rely on information from readers and local residents to ensure the stories I publish online are both timely and accurate. Most stories are either originally sourced from local word of mouth, observation of planning notices that have been posted in the area, or other informal methods. This is an appeal to you - the loyal readers of the humble Maggot Sandwich. Keep me informed of local issues, events and quirky stories - especially if they involve something a shade on the geeky side - you know it makes sense.

The proposed frequencies to be used by the forthcoming advanced 4G mobile phone services may interfere with Freeview TV signals. Ofcom has extended the period for consultation on proposals for technical licence conditions for the award of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum. The new closing date for responses to this consultation is 11th August 2011. Whilst not strictly related to amateur radio, there is an Electro Magnetic interference concern. The new 800MHz 4G signals will fall within the bandwidth of masthead preamps and TV tuners, adding to an already complex mixture for TV interference complaints. It may well turn out that the issue becomes part of the law of unintended consequences.

The video above shows the first experimental launch of a Lockheed F35C Lightning II fighter jet from a land based steam catapult, simulating an aircraft carrier launch. Britain is purchasing a number of these advanced, stealthy aircraft, to replace the Harrier. They are still some years away from delivery, and a great deal of work is required in the meantime. Watch the video to get an idea of what the aircraft are like. Personally, I wonder if the huge amount of money would be better spent on additional transport aircraft such as the C17 Globemaster, and a whole load more heavy lift helicopters to service our troops on the ground. The F35 is all very high tech and whizzy, but in these times of fiscal hardship, is it the best use for tax payers money I wonder?

As you may know, my favoured mode of footwear is the tan coloured steel toe capped builders boot (see the photo above). I find them cheap to buy and maintain, comfortable to wear and reassuringly stout in appearance.  They also have the secondary function in that they are a reliable and ever present defensive weapon. The unstated threat of a size twelve steel toecap in the nadgers tends to focus the attention of the scrotes and low lives in the area quite satisfactorily.  I do customise the boots to some degree - I don't just don them "out of the box". When preparing a new pair, direct from the shop, I remove the standard, chunky laces, that are more suitable for a construction site than the kind of offices I inhabit. I then give the boots a complete clean, using Punch Suede and Nubuck cleaner foam - to remove any little niggling particles left over from the factory. I then leave them to dry for 24 hours. The next stage is to thoroughly treat them with Kiwi "Aquastop" silicone based water repellant spray. This gives the boots an invisible waterproof protection that prevents them becoming discoloured if exposed to rain or puddles. The final stage is to replace the standard laces with longer, dark brown, flat boot laces from Morrison's. They provide better tightening and control than the originals. That leaves the new boots ready for wear. They may be rather heavier and more clumsy than regular shoes, but the level of wearer comfort and implicit security more than makes up for this.

When I reached Plumstead railway station on Thursday afternoon, I was greeted by the sight of a massive raid by British Transport Police and the Revenue Protection team from South East Trains on the fare dodgers that are endemic in the area. I entered the ticket office of the station, and immediately saw a chav in handcuffs (always a gratifying sight, and something I wish I was witness to on more occasions). From a short conversation with one of the Police officers, it transpired that the offender had travelled without a ticket, and when challenged had got abusive. He was restrained and his details checked on the Police computer. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that not only did he have a record as long as your arm, but he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, which the officers duly carried out - hence the handcuffs. Bunking a £4 railway ticket got him nicked and ready for sending off to jail. Some people really are just too stupid to be allowed out. As I consequently made my way home , I watched the  workmen undertaking the initial phase of the building activity between Plumstead and Abbey Wood railway stations which is now well under way, which is forming part of the forthcoming CrossRail project. This massive and long term construction project will link Abbey Wood with Maidenhead in the far West, and Shenfield in the far East. More interestingly, it will mean train journey times of 21 minutes to Tottenham Court Road from Abbey Wood, a journey time of 35 minutes from Abbey Wood to Ealing Broadway, and a travel time of around 41 minutes to Southall (a great place for a really good curry, home as it is to the Madhus Brilliant - one of the best Indian restaurants in the country). It all looks like a good deal for local public transport users. You can read more in detail about the whole Crossrail project by clicking here.

The Maggot Sandwich has now hit close to 42,000 visitors, and indeed, by the time you read this, it may have actually achieved this point. I guess that most of these will have stumbled upon it whilst looking for something else of more relevance to them, but it would seem from the figures that some still do tend to stick around - see the display below, which I culled from the Blogger users statistics earlier this morning. The figures don't give any information about repeat viewers unfortunately. 

I was in a particularly tedious meeting at work the other week; in an attempt to stop my own lower intestine throttling my brain in utter boredom, I determined to develop a new sport to replace the most time wasting and pointless pastime that is Golf. After a little consideration and some jiggling with rules, I evolved the sport of Polo Golf. Please let me elucidate. Polo Golf will involve a group of eight players, each equipped with an old style "sit up and beg" bicycle. They each have a choice of bat - a tennis racquet, fishing rod, cricket bat or lacrosse stick - the options are only limited by the contestants' imaginations. The aim is to use their weapon of choice to get the golf ball into each of the eighteen holes on the course, in the specific order in the shortest time possible. What's the harm in that? I hear you ask. Well, the entire event is designed to be a full contact combat - the players are able to attack each other to either deny the ball to an opponent, or just because bashing someone is a bit of a laugh when allowed as part of a sporting event. The players are permitted to wear any kind of protective gear they wish, with the one caveat that nothing can originate from after 1945. The reasoning behind this is that with older equipment, greater protection invariably means greater bulk and weight - no modern composite materials being available. In theory, a competitor could take part wearing a suit of field plate armour - but would be unlikely to get past the second or third hole due to exhaustion brought on my lugging around the heavy armour. A compromise between protection and bulk would have to be sought. A good combination might well be a cork life jacket plus a 1920's brass fireman's helmet. Oh, I forgot - there would also be additional marks awarded for style and panache. Obviously a shiny brass helmet might get points for elan, but it would clearly mark out the competitor for special attention from the others. All in all, gadding around a golf stadium on a bike, wearing improvised armour whilst bashing seven bells out of other contestants and potting balls into small holes seems a much more interesting way to spend ones' leisure time. It is designed to be a rather more civilised and cultured version of Rollerball for chaps. Do let me know what you think. All comments will be moderated and posted within 24 hours of receipt.

This week marks the 30th anniversary of MS DOS - one of the earliest products marketed by Microsoft, and the one thing that started their journey to world domination. They bought DOS from a third party developer called Seattle Computer Products for what turned out to be a derisory sum of money, and added some features to ensure that it would look and feel quite like CP/M to keep the older punters happy. Anyway, The Register does a far better job of documenting the history - which you can read by clicking here

In a similar retro vein, the presenters of BBC TV's "Top Gear"last week absolutely excelled themselves. After reviewing a restored and substantially updated Jensen Interceptor MK III, Jeremy Clarkson remarked how it made him feel like the star of a 1972 detective series. The team then went to work, to actually make the title series from the fictional show. It is spot on, and an absolute hoot - one of the best things on Top Gear for a very long time. It evokes the spirit of Jason King, Department S, the Persuaders and the Saint brilliantly. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you the Interceptors...


  1. Top Gear Jensen Interceptor movie - absolutely the best piece of VT to EVER come out of top Gear.

    They should make the movie 'cause I sure as hell would watch it!!!! Ah memories of the good old days...

  2. Thanks for the comments - unfortunately BBC Worldwide have just had the Top Gear video deleted from YouTube on copyright grounds - the idiots cannot see that they are shooting themselves in the foot in so doing. Sheer Muppetry on all levels.