Sunday, December 25, 2011

Molton Brown - Solicitors?

Bexleyheath Broadway reminds me of an urban allotment at the moment; this is mainly due to the preponderance of large garden sheds which have been erected; they are part of the “Winter Market” – a rather slipshod and haphazard collection of stalls attempting to flog festive tat and noxious smelling fast food to the passing shoppers. I also noticed an ancient and very rickety Helter Skelter slide that looked usable only by members of EXIT. When in Bexleyheath last Saturday I was struck by how “normal” a shopping day it was. There were no crowds or queues of waiting shoppers – very much a case of “business as usual”. I get the feeling that the pre Christmas sales figures are not going to make very comfortable reading for the retailers, especially considering that almost all of them have begun their sales; I found that HMV had slashed prices on their DVD’s by a huge amount – there were series boxed sets of various TV shows that had a recommended price of £60 that were being offered for £12. It looked to me like the store is sacrificing margins for volume. They appear to be one of many with this policy right now. Good for the consumer, but potentially fatal in the medium and long term for the retailers.

Reviews of The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff” on BBC 2 have been decidedly mixed; the TV show is a direct spin off from the utterly excellent BBC Radio 4 sitcom Bleak Expectations”. Personally I thought the TV show was amazing, but then I “get” the humour, and the style in which it is written. Both shows are parodies of the works of Charles Dickens – or rather, they present Dickensian stories and character in a surreal and very funny way. The humour is impossible to describe. You can see a ten minute spoof "making of" video below; apparently it was filmed with genuine Victorian steam powered cameras...

Maggot Sandwich reader Paul left a comment on last weeks' entry, and my thoughts on Erith station failing it its' bid to get a passenger lift installed, even though there is no wheelchair or buggy access to the London - bound platform. I get the feeling that very few people bother to read the comments occasionally left by readers; besides which, I think Paul's thoughts deserve a wider audience - he makes some very pertinent and thought provoking points:-

Interesting comments on the railway line through Erith, and I have something to add. I have been using this line for some 16 years now and have often wondered when standing at Charing Cross or Cannon Street stations when services are disrupted why the Bexley and Sidcup lines always seem to get priority over the Greenwich line for train departures. A few months ago I was chatting to an ex railwayman who had worked all 3 lines. I put the above point to him and his answer was amazing. We on the Greenwich line do not complain enough!!! The demographic makeup of the users of the Greenwich line means most users just grumble amongst themselves, users of the other two lines are more likely to contact the train operator, and these complaints are the ones recorded and the numbers published and sent to the regulator, hence Southeastern want to make sure that this number is low, especially if a franchise renewal is due, hence the bias. The same reason applies why fast trains are not stopped when slow ones are cancelled, passengers from the Medway towns are more likely to write, phone or email if their journey is delayed. Fascinating, but so very wrong. 

Following on from this, a certain public figure forwarded me the following - a variation on the festive song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" themed on Southeastern Trains. Click here to play the song ( you will need your computer speakers on and volume up - it is work friendly).

I see that concrete actions are finally being taken by both the Government and the Metropolitan Police in regard to metal theft – a subject I have written at length about over the last couple of years. The  Government are looking to bring in new legislation covering the scrap industry as early as this Spring.  The Police are setting up a special team, called the Waste and Metal Theft Task Force, which is going to be based in the Borough of Bexley - you can read more about it here. This dedicated team will be identifying the criminals, arresting them and getting them before the beak. The theft of metal is so widespread now that many crooks are turning to it in preference to other crimes. You may have seen in the last week that a valuable sculpture was stolen overnight from Dulwich Park. The story even made it onto CNN in the States. The bronze sculpture, entitled Two Forms (Divided Circle)” was created by artist Barbera Hepworth, and was thought to have a value of around £500,000. It was almost certainly sold for scrap, where it would be likely to fetch something in the region of £1,500 from a bent scrap dealer. Non ferrous metals like copper can be sold for around £4,500 per ton; the cause of the rocketing price is that there is currently a major demand for copper from China, with their huge drive to industrialise the vast rural areas of the country. I feel that this may not go on forever though, as there are signs the artificially created Chinese property bubble may be about to burst; a number of new towns, built to house the new Chinese middle class have become ghost towns. People bought the properties as investments, never intending to move in. Because of this, those that did intend to live in the towns were discouraged and did not buy, thus forcing the prices down to the point where the investors have ended up losing money. The financial misfortune in China may be the only way for the residents of the UK to be able to sleep safe, unworried as to if their water pipes were going to be nicked overnight if China catches a financial cold, scrap metal prices will drop, and the scumbags who go around nicking it will find some other way of earning a dishonest bob.

Below is a trailer for the forthcoming second series of "Sherlock" - the BBC's award winning adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, set in the present day. The title of the trailer "Rush Relents Rock" is of course an anagram of "Sherlock Returns".

When I was a kid, there was an easy solution for presents when you were not really sure what to buy for someone. The Body Shop was the universal solution – they literally had something for everyone; their products were ethically sourced and produced, and they were relatively cheap. The fact that the quality varied wildly was neither here nor there. I recall one type of bath oil that was wonderful when added to your bath water – it smelled lovely and left your skin feeling good too. The downside was that the base oil Body Shop used was ordinary vegetable cooking oil. After using it a couple of times, it soaked into your bath towel; the aromatic ingredients evaporated, leaving the towel smelling like a giant old chip paper. However many times the towel was subsequently then washed, the lingering whiff of the chippy could never fully be removed. I feel the modern equivalent (in terms of being a universal and well liked solution) is Molton Brown – the difference being that the quality of their high class toiletries is uniformly excellent – which, bearing in mind their eye wateringly high prices, so they should be. I bought some festive gifts from the Molton Brown store in Canary Wharf last week; My wallet was lightened by a three figure sum. On the upside I left the store with my purchases in a very swanky bag. I was quite conscious of it as I made my way home from Canary Wharf via the DLR to Greenwich, and the overland train from Greenwich to Erith. The further I got from London, the less I worried about being mugged by a group of well dressed women for my swish bag and its’ contents. By the time I got to Erith my concerns had completely evaporated; I am of the opinion that a significant percentage of local residents would probably think Molton Brown were a firm of criminal defence solicitors.

Whilst I awaited the arrival of the Southeastern train at Greenwich station, I witnessed a woman with two small children, both under five years old in tow. The kids were dawdling whilst walking up the ramp to the platform. The exasperated woman shouted back to them “Godfrey, Ffion, DO hurry up!” I smiled – what an accident of geography. Only a couple of railway stations further down the line and the children would be called something like Kyle and Britney – Jo.

If you are an Erith local, I wonder if you have noticed a phenomenon that seems to be occurring with an increasing frequency? Young scrotes on 50cc scooters (you know the type – the motors on them sounds like an angry wasp trapped in a biscuit tin) pulling wheelies on busy public roads. It seems to not be not just one or two of the irresponsible twats doing this, judging by their varied helmet designs and bike number plates, but quite a diverse group of potential organ donors. What annoys me is not so much that they are likely to injure or possibly kill themselves with their antics – to be honest, I am sure the NHS would welcome a fresh source of young and relatively healthy organs. What does get my goat is they are very likely to injure or kill a fellow road user or nearby pedestrian. Personally I will be taking the number plate details of any scumbags I see wheelying down the street, and I would urge you to do the same.

As I previously wrote about back at the end of November, the old Erith Pop - In - Parlour building (see the photo above - click for a larger view) which then was up for sale, was sold at auction on the 12th December to persons unknown; it went for £95,000 - just over twice the original estimate. Currently I don't know what use is to be made of it. I would hope the current building could be refurbished. It would be a pity to see it demolished to make way for flats  - there are already too many high rise buildings in the town. Drop me a line if you have any insider news.

What is it with a certain type of man (and it is always men) and TCP? Three times this week I have had to suffer sitting on the train, adjacent to blokes who smelled like they had been swimming in a swamp of vile smelling TCP. Two of the guys were old codgers who probably had been using it as a mouthwash to cover for terminal halitosis - a message to them - TCP smells even worse that any kind of bad breath, trust me. The third was a younger guy, accompanied (quite surprisingly) by a woman that one could quite charitably class as a BOBFOC (Body Off Baywatch, Face Off Crimewatch). She had so much blusher on her saggy face it looked like she had been bobbing for chips in a deep fat fryer. The bloke sat next to me, reeking of the vile antiseptic, and the woman sat opposite, using a gas powered pair of curling tongs to do her hair - on the train! Fortunately I only had to suffer them for a couple of stops before I got off to take the Docklands Light Railway at Greenwich.

The final video clip this week is a real and unexpected treat. It is the first teaser trailer for the forthcoming two part movie of The Hobbit, directed by Peter Jackson (who else could do it after his multi award winning  The Lord of the Rings series?) I would strongly recommend that you enlarge the video to full screen to really appreciate it. I understand that principal photography on the movie is currently under way in New Zealand. The film is not due at our cinemas until the 16th December next year; as happens on quite a few mega budget movies nowadays, the initial trailers are often filmed before the actual film is made, as a way of drumming up online interest, and creating a “buzz”. This usually helps the film when it eventually comes out. There have been a couple of occasions when the practice has gone very awry though; one of the most notorious examples was the teaser trailer for the first Spider – Man film. The trailer showed a gang of desperate villains carrying out an armed robbery on a New York bank. The crooks make their way to the roof of the building, where a helicopter is waiting to fly them away from the scene of their crime. As the helicopter makes off, Spidey spins a web between the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and catches the helicopter full of crooks like a giant fly. The trailer was released a couple of weeks before 9/11. Understandably it was almost instantly withdrawn, though occasionally bootleg versions appear on YouTube and elsewhere. The studio then gets “cease and desist” orders issued by their lawyers, and the videos disappear as quickly as they appear.

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