Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Riverside regenerated?

I took the photo above, early one Sunday morning a little while back from Erith Riverside Gardens. It shows the view looking west towards the industrial area in Lower Belvedere. The tide is out and many seabirds can be seen hunting for molluscs and worms in the mud. I am firmly behind the campaign to save and preserve the Riverside Gardens - the only place in the whole of the London Borough of Bexley, where the public have direct access to the River Thames. Money grabbing developers must not be allowed to build yet more unwanted flats on the gardens - it will destroy what little quality of life Erith has, and eliminate a very key element of the towns' identity. Having said that, there is a glimmer of light on the horizon; FORGE (Friends Of Riverside Gardens Erith) have petitioned the Government to intervene in the matter. It was discussed in Parliament last week, and in response, Eric Pickles (the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) wrote that "local communities should be able to protect green spaces that are important to them". I just hope the half crazed Visigoths that seem to staff Bexley Council planning department take heed. I think it is high time that more residents realised that local government do not "rule" us - they are here to do our bidding - we pay their wages in the form of Council Tax.

On a positive note, I understand that the current hideous Larner Road estate is to undergo a major facelift and refurbishment, including the demolition of the squalid and crime ridden high rise tower blocks. This will be a good thing for the many honest residents, and may work some way to eliminating the drug dealers and criminals that use the high rise blocks as home for their nefarious activities. I am just concerned that in the current economic climate, the money for the project will not be forthcoming.  The need for regeneration of the Larner Road tower blocks has been thrown into the spotlight after the fire this morning that occurred in the Cambria House block in Larner Road that started at around 8am, and rapidly spread to engulf around half of the 14th floor of the tower block; Erith Fire Brigade were rapidly on the scene and evacuated all of the residents.  Three children and five adults had to be taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation and associated injuries. The fire was successfully extinguished by around 10am, and temporary accommodation is being arranged for those whose homes have been damaged. It might be a good point for the developers to immediately demolish the block as a start to the redevelopment, rather than to repair the fire damage - it would signal a strong commitment to the refurbishment and improvement to the entire estate. The tower blocks have been a crime riddled eyesore for years, and a line needs to be drawn under them sooner rather than later.

It would appear that the fight to get a lift installed at Erith Station has been lost. Southeastern trains have apparently outright refused to spend the money to get a lift fitted. Erith & Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce wrote the following entry on her Fix My Transport website:

Southeastern have responded and have no plans to a lift at Erith. I know that ! That's why we are campaigning for one. Why does Bexleyheath merit a lift? Its because more people use it. Why do more people use it? Because its accessible. I also know that if a disabled person needs to go to London from Erith, Southeastern will offer a free taxi to an accessible station. BUT you have to give 24 hours notice so you can't just decide on the day to go to London. Also will they offer a daily taxi for someone who commutes to work every day?

A good point; Southeastern are contravening the Disability Rights Act too. Perhaps if we could get the Daily Mirror or the Sun involved, it might embarrass the company to the point that they might change their minds? Just a thought. You can read a lot more about the situation, and the possible actions that could be taken to get Southeastern Trains to review their decision by reading the discussion thread on the FixMyTransport website here.

It is a pity that both our local MP's may be in danger of losing their seats if the proposed electoral boundary changes come into force. The people we elected to represent us will be out on their ear in short notice, and the boundaries of the constituencies will be mangled in the process. You can read about the changes which are likely to affect both David Evennett (Conservative) and Teresa Pearce (Labour) by clicking on this link for the details.

Personally I am not that keen on most summer blockbuster movies. I note that Captain America - The First Avenger has recently been doing some good business in the UK box offices. I will wait until it comes out on iTunes before seeing it. The CGI heavy and rather intense story make the whole thing look a bit serious. On the other hand you can watch the trailer below from an earlier take on the story. The clip below shows Captain America in a made for TV movie from 1979. Even allowing for the age of the piece, it is buttock clenchingly, knuckle gnawingly awful. So bad in fact, that it would be compulsive viewing. The staging, acting, script and execution are so dire it defies logic and explanation - do take a look, and wonder at the sheer awfulness of the work.

I see that the recent finale of Torchwood got appalling viewing figures; it was haemorrhaging viewers throughout the entire duration of the series, and ended up losing something like a million viewers over the series run. It does seem that the show, along with its' progenitor, Doctor Who have both gone off the boil. I have stopped watching both of them, as they now seem like fantasy based soap operas rather than well written science fiction. I hope that I will be able to report an improvement before too much longer.

On a lighter note, this weeks' "Who Do You Think You Are?" on BBC1 featured comedian and TV presenter Alan Carr. His family roots were traced back to Crayford. This interesting and well made series is a must see for me, and the local content of this weeks' edition made it doubly so. You can see it for the next week or so on BBC iPlayer by clicking here (UK residents only, I am afraid).

Not exactly a scoop as such - but new to pretty much all of you, I would hazard a guess. The photo above shows the new and funked up Blue Screen of Death notice, that will be appearing in the forthcoming Windows 8. It is a touch on the disingenuous - most times it is not actually the computer that has encountered the problem, it is usually the operating system itself - a dodgy device driver, misbehaving application or corrupt file are often the fault. Coincidentally, this week marks the 55th anniversary of the launch of the very first hard disk drive by IBM.  The details of the pretty hefty IBM 305 RAMAC hard disk drive can be read here.

I was sitting on the 99 bus to Plumstead during the week; directly behind me were a couple of young women who were discussing their various tattoos and body piercings. They did not appear to be conscious of the fact their very intimate conversation could be easily heard by all and sundry. They were talking about some pretty personal ironwork that both had recently had installed in their nether regions; I must admit that I found it impossible to "tune out" from their conversation, and was squirming in my seat in discomfort - I dislike all such bodily mutilations in any form, though I concede that it is all down to personal preference. It is similar to those who have private conversations on their mobile telephones whilst in public - do they really want to wash their dirty linen in public, or do they just not give a stuff? It was not that long ago that I was witness to a woman who sat on the back seat of the bus, who then started a conversation  with a then unknown person on her mobile phone. I was sat pretty much as far away from the woman as it was possible to be whilst still on the bus, but I could still hear every word of her dialogue - she was telling what turned out to be her mother about her terrible case of piles. The entire lower deck was the unwitting recipient of the woman's ten minute dialogue concerning the minutiae of her attack of throbbing bum grapes, and the efforts she had to rid herself of them. I think she was oblivious to the fact her conversation was audible to all and sundry. The conversation may have been one sided, but it was graphic in the extreme, and I am just glad that I was not contemplating eating anything at the time. It does seem to me that many people seem to assume that conversations undertaken on mobile phones are private, when they are anything but that.

A band I have been listening to in the last week are the Bath based psychedelic progressive rockers Cranium Pie - who sound like a mash up of early Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Frank Zappa. Definitely recommended; you can hear some of their music by clicking here.

On a similarly slightly off beat approach; one of my anonymous sources sent me this - it is a short video featuring Air Swimmers - remote controlled robot flying fish. Cool or what?

As you may be aware, I run an irregular feature on the Maggot Sandwich where I highlight local businesses. This week I am featuring a new enterprise, a company producing and marketing a very high quality dog food, superior in ingredients and nutrition to any other brand currently on the mainstream market. Bob and Lush are principally based online, with a free, next day delivery service, though they do currently have one shop, and appear at dog shows and associated events (they had a stand at the Kent County Show this weekend), and also market via quality dog breeders. They have a Facebook site here. The photo below shows the home page from their website. You can visit their online store to request a free sample of their high quality produce by clicking here

The final video this week is a bit of a departure from the usual clip lasting a few minutes. It is a documentary entitled "Star Wars Begins" and is nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes in duration. It is the first of a trilogy of documentaries analysing the original three Star Wars movies scene by scene, with out takes, behind the scenes footage, bloopers and alternative versions of scenes, along with voice over interviews with all of those involved. It is a fan produced venture, but it is WAY better than any other documentary I have ever seen on the iconic film series. Lucasfilm have made nothing official to come even close to the utterly outstanding work seen here. To my mind these three long documentaries are the definitive work on the original movie series. This week it is Star Wars (no "A New Hope" here - this was the very early days). Next week I will feature the documentary on The Empire Strikes Back, and the week after the documentary on Return of the Jedi. Click on the clip to enlarge to full screen and sit back end enjoy - even if you are a hardcore Star Wars nut, I absolutely guarantee you will learn things you never knew before. Don't take my word for it - read the review of the documentary series here. Do drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

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