Sunday, September 04, 2011

Brace for impact.

The photo above was taken by me on Erith Pier last week; many people enjoy using the structure, whether it be for a quiet walk, or for a whole night of fishing. The pier attracts a lot of salt water anglers, some of whom come from some distance in order to fish on the pier. I often see battery powered lights and tents lit with a warm glow of a camping gas cooker when I pass the pier at night. What it could do with is a unisex loo, and a tap with fresh water for drink making; it would certainly be worth a small out lay to improve conditions for the regular visitors and nocturnal campers. It is good to see a former industrial location in fresh use - the pier was originally used to unload industrial newsprint from the Scandinavian paper mills - the giant paper rolls were shipped over and unloaded at Erith, then stored in the Europa Industrial Estate, before being transported up to what was then Fleet Street.

The only florist in Erith is now no more; the Floral Design Centre which used to be located in Erith High Street has now closed, and the building has already been taken over by the Aglory African cash & carry, which already operated in the shop next door. I don't think that the location was conducive to running a florists, the row of shops is somewhat out of the way. I hope that Aglory make a better go of it.

I was in a bus crash on Friday afternoon. I was on the 380 – a single deck “hopper” type bus (see the photo above of a slightly older model), going the three stops from Gallions View back to Plumstead station to get the train home after my daily Dad visit. I was standing next to the driver –  the bus was packed. He got to the junction of Tom Cribb Road, where it meets Pettman Crescent (right opposite Plumstead bus garage). At the junction there was a silver BMW 318i waiting for the traffic flow to stop. The bus driver slowed, then suddenly accelerated into the back of the BMW. I saw what was about to happen, and “braced for impact”, but lots of people were thrown over – I almost ended up going out through the windscreen as it was. The back of the BMW was trashed, and the front of the bus had partially disintegrated too. I yelled at the driver, asked if anyone was hurt, when there was no obvious serious injuries, I got off the bus and ran round the corner to the bus halt in the main road and grabbed the duty inspector – he came round and I then gave a statement, saying I had been a witness as well as a victim and it was completely the drivers fault – I suggested that the Police check him for both drink and drugs as soon as possible. The Police came, took my details and then let me go on my way. I have a strained shoulder and a banged knee, but am otherwise OK – there were a couple of elderly ladies on the bus who were knocked right over, but I don’t think anybody was seriously hurt. The driver and passenger in the BMW were unhurt too. I have heard rumours of drink and drug misuse involving bus drivers based at the Plumstead garage on at least two occasions. I am now beginning to wonder if there is some substance to the allegations. Hopefully this incident will lead to a formal investigation and action where appropriate.

This time last year I wrote a piece about Stanley Green - the "Less Protein" man, who used to carry a billboard around the West End of London, and sell pamphlets expounding his views on how too much protein heightened levels of passion in people. You can read my original posting here. Stanley died back in 1993, ironically from malnutrition brought on by his eccentric and unhealthy diet. His billboard has now been preserved in the Museum of London, as you can now see below, courtesy of the photo taken recently by Ian.

On two separate occasions in the last week, I have been the unwitting witness to two conversations between chavs who had been involved in the Woolwich riots. I was on both occasions sitting on the train, heading back from London on my way to my daily Dad visit. The scrotes were sitting (unpaid for, naturally) opposite me, and discussing the aftermath of the rioting, and which of their mates had been prosecuted for various wrong doings. One mentioned to the other that he was having to do 200 hours of community service, mainly doing gardening, which he hated. He said that he would have preferred being "put back on the tag" (which inferred that he had already been tagged in the past, which pretty much marked him as a career criminal). The other group said pretty much the same thing; does this mean that tagging is regarded as a soft option by the scumderclass? From my small and admittedly unscientific research, it would appear so. 

If you are a long - time reader of the Maggot Sandwich, you may recognise the photo above; it shows the reconstructed Colossus II computer, housed at The National Museum Of Computing at Bletchley Park. I was fortunate enough to visit a couple of years ago, and briefly met the remarkable engineer and inventor behind the historic recreation - Tony Sale. In person he was modest and diffident about his achievements, but would soon become animated when describing what Colossus did and how it worked.  He was also quick to correct visitors who wrongly assumed that Colossus was used to break the Enigma code. In fact Colossus was used to break the even more fiendishly complex Lorenz Cipher - which was used by Nazi high command to communicate by radio with the Fuhrer. Quite simply, in 1944, now 67  years ago,  Bletchley Park were using a farm of ten Collossi to read Hitler's Email.  Historians agree that this shortened the war by something like two years.  The code breaking performed at Bletchley Park had a higher security classification at the time than the Manhattan Project in the USA. Unfortunately Tony Sale died this week aged 80, after a short illness; his contribution to the preservation and restoration of Britain's computing history is second to none.  You can read his obituary on the BBC News website here.

I was staggered to read earlier this week that Young's are giving up brewing their excellent real ale after 180 years of quenching the thirst of Londoners. The company is going to concentrate on their chain of pubs and restaurants instead. I feel that the writing has been on the wall for them since they moved out of London to merge with Charles Wells to form Wells & Youngs, located in Bedford in 2006. You can read the official announcement by clicking here. This leaves Fuller, Smith & Turner as the only major regional London based brewer. Fortunately the rapid rise of real ale micro breweries in the UK means that the popularity of proper beer is on the rise, and the sale of chemical laden, gassy and flavourless lagers is on the thankful decrease. I am convinced that lager drinking leads to increased aggression and violence, whereas the consumption of real ale leads to relaxation and bonhomie - it is a well known scientific fact that the hops in real ale act as a gentle tranquiliser and also have mild antibiotic properties. I think that if we could convince the Government to subsidise the production of ale, the country would be a better place. Picture this - a way to reduce unemployment, keep the streets safer, reduce urban violence and enhance the health of the public. Now that nearly everybody buys their milk and dairy products from supermarkets, this has meant that the traditional door to door milkmen have lost their jobs. All the currently unemployed milkmen could be re - hired to daily deliver bottles of real ale to every household in the UK. This would calm the lager fuelled aggressive tendencies of the criminal underclass, encourage the farming community to grow more barley and hops, enhancing the agricultural economy, and since the milk / beermen would be traversing the streets on a daily basis, they could also help with policing, acting as additional PCSO's during their early morning beer delivery patrols. What is not to like? I think this single endeavour could end the recession and reduce crime in a few short weeks.

MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Teresa Pearce dropped me a line earlier in the week; she's a regular Maggot Sandwich reader, and picked up on my recent coverage of her efforts to get Southeastern Trains to install a lift at Erith Station, as they are already legally obliged to do under the terms of the Disability Rights Act (DRA).  She has set up a Fix My Transport site in order to lobby the rail company into getting a suitable lift installed. You can see her campaigning website by clicking here.  The site can be seen in the picture below. If you live in the area and want to see public transport improved, or you just want to stick it to the penny pinching scumbags that run South East Trains, do sign up to Teresa's campaign website - it is not party political, it just wants to get things improved for local people, and that can only be a good thing.

Erith Morrison's continues on its' downward spiral into managerial madness. Following the recent replacement of the "hand baskets only" aisles with automated "self service" tills that spend most of their time flashing their little red lights, indicating that they are malfunctioning, leaving the two harassed and over worked assistants to apologise to the ever lengthening impatient and angry queue of waiting customers. As previously mentioned, I utterly refuse to use these exploitative tills, and I know that I am far from being alone in this opinion (I don't have a dog and bark myself - as I wrote last week). This week they have introduced a new feature in the middle of the delicatessen area. An olive bar - a circular island type feature offering around a dozen varieties of olive from around the world. One can select a microscopic pot to take away for £2.79 or a merely tiny pot for £3.49. Bearing in mind we are talking about Erith - a town where a significant percentage of the locals open a McDonald's burger to remove the slices of dill pickle and flick them on the floor, I do question the whole business effectiveness of an olive bar - many chavs will just wonder why there is a selection of big peas with a hole through the middle, where the microwave meals used to be. I give the enterprise three months at most before it is scrapped - there is just not the demand for "posh" food in the area, where many of the hoodied generation think that haute cuisine is a portion of fried chicken. I get the impression that Morrison's head office are handing down diktats from on high, without considering what will appeal to a particular target market. It is ironic that I am partial to the odd olive or two, but I am not exactly Morrison's rank and file customer.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to check out the excellent Erith based local weather station that has its' own website. It is run by fellow Radio Amateur Bob G4MHJ. You can see his weather station online here.

The number of counterfeit £1 coins currently in circulation is extremely worrying; I have had check out staff give me fake coins in change on numerous occasions in the recent past. When I have rejected the fakes, the till operator invariably returned them to the till. This is illegal - to knowingly return counterfeit currency into circulation is a criminal offence. See the video clip below on how to successfully identify a fake £1 coin - it is fascinating stuff.

As the summer splutters to a grey and uncertain end, I notice that the local ice cream vans are touting for their final trade of the season. They all seem to be decorated with a variety of Disney and other cartoon characters as well as designs most likely to attract young children. I do wonder how many of them have engaged in intellectual property licencing deals with the copyright owners? Somehow I think none. If I was legal counsel for one of the big cartoon studios, I would be pressing for the van owners to cease and desist. You may think I am being a killjoy, but the depictions of the various cartoon characters is often so poorly drawn and shabbily depicted that it can only harm the image and reputation of the original. Crap cartoon depiction on ice cream vans has been going on for so long that it almost by default seems to be accepted - why?

Much has been written about the health and wellbeing of Apple supremo Steve Jobs in the last few weeks. When he stepped down as CEO of the organisation, many pundits seemed to think it would be the end for the seminal IT company. This has already proved to not be the case. I am not going to wade into this discussion - it has enough opinions already. Instead, I would point you at a blog posting written by someone who is one of Steve Jobs neighbours. Her posting is humane and insightful, and certainly makes for interesting reading. Take a look at "My Neighbour - Steve Jobs" and form your own opinion.

The final video clip is the full episode of TV series Room 101 featuring the late Linda Smith, who was born and raised in Erith. She famously once said that "Erith isn't twinned with anywhere, but it does have a mutual suicide pact with Dagenham".

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