Sunday, October 16, 2011

Are you Arthur Pewty?

Yesterday afternoon Erith was the centre of celebration for Alexander Selkirk Day. It was the 300th anniversary of Alexander Selkirk landing back in the UK at Erith, after his historic stranding on a desert island. His real life story was the inspiration for the fictional character of Robinson Crusoe. The photo above shows the re - enactment of Alexander Selkirk landing on the old wooden Erith Pier, adjacent to the former Erith Police Station; he was accompanied by a small crew of sailors, who rowed him ashore. This was witnessed by a crowd of several hundred local people, taking advantage of the unseasonally excellent weather. Whilst taking photos I bumped into a number of people, including our local MP, Teresa Pearce (see the photo below). She's very much behind the FORGE campaign to save and preserve Erith Riverside Gardens, which is a very good thing indeed. You can also see Teresa's campaign to get a lift installed at Erith Station by clicking here.

The turn out for the one - off special event was good, helped no doubt by the aforementioned excellent weather. I was stopped several times by local people, who then asked me "Are you that Arthur Pewty"? I was quite taken aback as to the very positive reception the Maggot Sandwich Blog seems to get; it would appear that it is even more widely read than I was given to understand. Thanks to all of you who approached me to say hello and pass on your good wishes - it was unexpected and greatly appreciated. You can see my photos of the event on my Flickr site - click here to see them.

Pawnbrokers, gold traders, high interest money lenders and high street fence retailer of stolen second hand electronic goods Cash Generator are shortly to open a shop in the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre. The store is opening next door to the Barnardo's charity shop in the main covered strip. They already have a page on their company website dedicated to the Erith store - even though it is currently little more than a shell at present. You can click to see the page here. No doubt the local drug dealers are rubbing their hands in glee, as they scent another cash stream as their smack head chav customers have an additional way to launder stolen goods and turn them into cash for drugs. I will be having words with the local constabulary about the place - to ensure that Cash Generator are kept under very tight supervision. Talking of which (and who says that I don't plan each weeks' entry...)

Bexley Neighbourhood Watch Association are keen to recruit new people to set up and manage local Neighbourhood Watch groups throughout the borough. Details of the recruitment drive are in the document below - please click on the image for a larger view. You can also visit the Erith Watch Neighbourhood Watch website by clicking here. 

As previously mentioned, I have a guest blogger making an appearance - this was due to happen last week, but due to a number of factors, including the fact that Blogger had some major database and usability issues, it did not happen. Mister B was born in Erith, raised in Upper Belvedere, and has reported on international conflicts around the world. He's worked for Sky News, ABC News and the BBC, as well as being a freelance news gatherer in his time. Nowadays he's living in Glasgow, and here is his first in a series of occasional Blog submissions. Read on, and please let me know what you think.

Nearly Twice Around The Sun

Where was the only place on the British Isles Elvis ever set foot on?

Granted, I doubt it was by choice, but the fact remains that Glasgow Prestwick airport received the King on his only royal visit. That was 1960, fast forward to the summer of 2011 and a more current icon of popular culture and Hollywood royalty, Brad Pitt, arrives in Scotland's most populace, and the UK's third biggest city.

It’s a city built on a grid system, something more attributable to the cities of our US cousins. Indeed US city planners used Glasgow as a template, in architecture and planning, so much so that Mr Pitts latest movie was part shot here.

A few minor tweaks to St Georges Square, street signage, a few American cars and swapping fire engines for fire trucks and the streets around were transformed into downtown Philly. Knowing the industry, the only driving force behind a Hollywood Producer deciding to shoot here as Philly, rather than Philly itself would have been budget. World War Z is a zombie apocalypse movie after all so not much to spend on making up the local extras to look the part of the shambling and incomprehensible undead. Local catering would have raised eyebrows amongst the American crew. It is not an urban myth about the deep frying of any and all available foodstuffs. I wonder if the Californian crew were offered deep fried muesli and melon for petit dejeuner?

Having been part of the undead myself on occasion around the bars and clubs of St Georges Square, there has been on a number of occasions when the local haute cuisine of deep fried pizza seems more Blumenthal than indigestion followed by coronary, until you sober up of course. Which is difficult to do here as pubs and bars are generally open for longer than our English ones, one up too Glasgow, I can drink legally for 24 hours if I want, but this does bring into question the legality of doing anything else after 24 hours of drinking.

This includes the purchase of Off-sales, which is illegal prior to 10am and after 10pm. All the booze in supermarkets is covered-up the rest off the time, literally, a small curtain comes down on all the booze shelves and a barrier is put up around the booze section. Believe it or not this is one of the Scottish Governments attempts to tackle the country’s drink problem, well, that’s clearly working out well isn’t it?

It has been nearly two years since I moved here, nearly twice around the sun; shame I have hardly seen it since I’ve been here but lets leave the Scottish weather for another time.

The untimely death of Apple supremo Steve Jobs has had extensive and deep coverage over the last week or so; he was certainly a maverick and innovative businessman, and definitely saw where technology was going before almost anyone else. However, in my opinion, his passing was equalled if not surpassed in significance by the death of a chap called Dennis Ritchie. I am pretty certain many of you would not be familiar with the name (and no, he was not the brother of film director Guy Ritchie). Dennis Ritchie was the man who more than anyone else could be said to be the father of the internet age; before Tim Berners - Lee could have got his concept of the World Wide Web off the ground, it needed an infrastructure. Dennis Ritchie provided this by creating the infrastructure that would support all this networking; he co wrote the Unix operating system with Ken Thompson, and was the creator of the C Programming language, which in one or more of its' forms, runs the online world. Unix and its' open source stepchild Linux, run 498 out of 500 of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. Unix is the underlying technology behind Apple's OS X and iOS operating systems, and Linux powers Google, Amazon, the New York and London Stock exchanges, not to mention set top boxes, cash machines, pretty much every embedded system you can name, and of course it is the basis for the Android OS running on a huge number of mobile phones and digital tablets too. Dennis Ritchie did not have the high publicity that Steve Jobs did, but he was fundamental to the computer age - his contribution was not nearly so engaging to the general public, but he created the infrastructure and development tools that enabled almost all of the online world we see today. You can read an exceptionally well written article on the importance of what Ritchie gave to the world by clicking here.

The latest edition of The Chap Magazine has just been published. You can read a summary of the contents by clicking here. Someone mentioned to me in the week that they thought I was a person born out of time, and that I would have been in my element working in Bletchley Park in the mid 1940's. I am not so sure - OK, my liking for tweed and leather, bespoke cars from Bristol Motors and my dislike of the lack of civility in modern times are all well known. I don't know what I would do without Internet access - probably concentrate more on Amateur Radio - which in essence was the closest thing to the World Wide Web, before its' invention. The only thing I really would not be able to endure in the 1940's would have been the dreadful, bland food. I know that rationing actually made the UK population healthier than it had been either before or since, but a diet lacking in olive oil, lemongrass, chilli or spices of almost any type would be unendurable for me. Life without curry is a mere pitiful existence.

I found it hard to keep a straight face whilst on the bus to Belvedere yesterday evening. I was sat behind two middle aged, slightly raddled chavs who, for some unearthly reason were discussing reading. One asked the other "so, have you read a book in the last couple of years?" The second chav nodded sagely and replied in the affirmative. "Yeah, I read a book." "What was it called, then?" "Er.. it was called Where's Wally?" I had to bite my tongue.

I see that it is proposed to install weapons scanning arches in Bexleyheath Broadway, in order to check whether school kids are carrying knives. I don't know if this would have had any effect on the horrendous knife murder of Sally Hodkin, which appears to have been the result of a mentally ill woman going berserk in Bexleyheath Broadway, and by the war memorial gardens. The story made national headlines - you can read about it here.

Talking of mobile phones and Apple (another formatting coincidence? I don't think so.) I was in Canary Wharf on Friday; I decided to take my daily constitutional with a walk through the underground shopping centre that attracts so many shoppers during their lunch break. I noticed that every single mobile telephone shop had a queue out of the door; I recalled that Apple were launching their rather controversial iPhone 4S that day, but it was only when I emerged into the daylight at Cabot Place West, and saw a yuppie rather theatrically stamp and crush his old Blackberry on the ground in front of a couple of his mates, now that he had defected to Apple, that it really sank in  - the recent troubles that RIM have had in delivering connectivity and service have played directly into the hands of Apple, and to some extent to the makers of smart phones running Android, which in some cases offer a better all round package than the 4S. Before you wonder why I suddenly appear to be rhapsodising over a mobile phone launch, please understand I was observing this hysteria from a jaded and somewhat world weary viewpoint. I note in passing that a recent study proves that one in six mobile phones has traces of poo on it. You can view my succinct and somewhat cynical opinion on the whole mobile phenomenon by clicking here. Before you point out that I wrote the article back in 2006, my views have not changed one iota, and I still do not own a mobile telephone, and never intend that I will.

This weeks' end video shows the edited highlights of one of the most impressive and accomplished ever amateur rocket launches to date. The unmanned vehicle, called the Qu8k (pronounced "Quake") reached an altitude of 121,000 feet. You can read more about the launch, and the team of volunteers behind it by clicking here. Please feel free to leave a comment below. It will be moderated and published within 24 hours of submission.


  1. Now I have told you before and no doubt will continue to do so, Android devices like my Galaxy S are mobline internet connected computers, some merely have mobile phone functionality added as a by product of using the 3G/HSDPA mobile data networks! Plus it was only the mobile phone industry that had the balls to promote such devices. If RF based interternet had arrived 10 years earlier we wouldn't be worrying about the old copper twisted pair method of delivery that we have had to endure for so long and your net book would have come with 3G as standard. ;-)

  2. hi will the alexander selkerk day be on again sounds like a good comunity event.

  3. and apparently Glasgow has the greatest welath of victorian architecture of any european city says your scottish colleague who hates Apple (on a par with Man Utd) as the arrogant marketing behemoth it turned out to be - typically illustrated by them making people buy licensed music that had to be played on their machine. Microsoft were mere naive market traders conmpared to A$$le who are on a par with Standard Oil in the 19th century in their commercial rapaciousness. Blocking Samsung new products with dubious patent injunctions - that's encouraging progress! And Jobs - the man who sold a machine for carrying poo! How could you laud him Hugh - he didn't invent anything and he treated his staff like poo. He denied the parentage of his first child until a blood test proved it. A flawed individual indeed but no genius!