Sunday, January 06, 2013

New Year, New Look.

The dramatic photo above was taken by Lisa Marie Crane, an Upper Belvedere resident. It shows the fire that severely damaged Mr Man’s fish and chip shop in Nuxley Road, Upper Belvedere on Wednesday morning. The precise cause of the fire is under ongoing investigation, but from what I have gathered, it may well have been caused by a fault in the deep fat fryer. The fire Brigade were called at 10.25am. Mr. Man’s normally opens for lunchtime service at 11.30am. I am reliably informed that it takes an hour to heat the fryer’s cooking oil from cold so that it reaches the correct cooking temperature. These timings would tend to support the theory of some kind of fault in the fryer causing the fire - reports stating that the exhaust flue caught fire are only partially correct - something would need to set any grease or contaminants in the flue alight; to my mind it is likely the flue fire was merely secondary to the fryer fault. No doubt time – and the fire investigation – will tell. Unfortunately, as is so often the case nowadays, the reader talkback on the story on the News Shopper website has been taken over by the usual idiots and flamers – something that happens with tedious regularity. The News Shopper really need to moderate comments, as I have said on many occasions before. Mr Man’s has always had a reputation for cleanliness and a high standard of food hygiene – indeed, it rates a four out of five stars on the Scores on the Doors website. Despite this high rating, it did not display its’ sticker in the shop window, something that very few places in Upper Belvedere, and none in Erith still do. One of the differences in Erith is that with the notable exception of the mega chains McDonald’s and KFC, every other food outlet in Erith scores two stars or fewer – an indication of very poor hygiene practices indeed. Overall, the London Borough of Bexley has the worst food hygiene scores in the United Kingdom – a fact which apart from reflecting very badly on the individual businesses so poorly rated, also does not say much for Bexley Council’s Environmental Health Department. I find it hard to understand, that when a food outlet gets marked with a two, one or even zero rating, that it is not closed down until such time as it can meet the minimum required standards. It would seem that through lack of resources (or possibly will) that Bexley are turning a somewhat blind eye to failing food outlets. Places such as Town Kebab (1 star), China Red, Munchies Cafe, and Chilli Chill Indian (all zero stars and rated as “Urgent Improvement Required”) have been open and operating normally, even though their most recent health inspection was around a year ago. It does seem to the outside observer that the health inspections, and more importantly the level of enforcement is really not being taken seriously. I would personally like to see the display of a food outlets’ star rating sign compulsory, rather than voluntary. This would at least bring some incentive for a place to improve, as customers  would hopefully vote with their feet at low scoring places. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Well, as you will now no doubt have noticed, the Maggot Sandwich has had a fundamental makeover for the New Year. As I have written previously, I have been thinking about giving the site a drastic new look and feel for a long time; the previous layout and colour scheme was looking very dated, and there was a lot of redundant code in the old page, which made it slow to load on lower powered computers and mobile devices. You will now find only the current update displayed on the front page, with shortcut tabs to the previous entries formed as tabs on the left, which are independently scrollable from the main body of blog text. There is now a comments box at the foot of each blog entry; I get the feeling that this may encourage more readers to place a comment, now that it is more obvious how one can do so. The “About Me” and links to other blogs are now on the right hand side of the page. Normally they are partially hidden – if you hover your mouse pointer over the right side of the screen, the various options will slide out, ready for selection. You can also now navigate back to the home page from any blog entry by clicking on the “Home” button at the top left hand side of the screen. Searching content has also been improved – enter the word or phrase that you wish to search for in the box to the top right hand corner of the screen, and you should then find what you are looking for. The upside of all these changes is that the Maggot Sandwich should load far more quickly, even on a relatively slow computer; there is also more support for mobile devices with small screens. Please note that the new look Maggot Sandwich does not support Internet Explorer 6 - which nobody should be using nowadays anyway, as it is horrendously outdated, clunky and buggy. A lot of the old JavaScript has been retired – something that had been causing problems on web browsers like Apple’s Safari. I have also changed the font used for the text for something that is more readable for people with sight difficulties. You may also notice that on first loading the front page, you get a couple of animated cogs appearing on your screen - this is not a fault, it is Blogger checking your browser ID tag and then serving up a page that is optimised for your specific web browser. Please take the time to leave a comment at the bottom of this article to give me some feedback about the new look and feel – your thoughts would be welcome.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone in Bexley Council ever thinks their policies and operational matters through properly. I will leave the detailed Council oversight to Malcolm of the Bexley is Bonkers website, as he does a far better job of it than anyone else in the area, and I would not want to tread on his toes. The cause of my ire is that Bexley Council trot out the “fact” that they are one of the highest rated local authorities when it comes to recycling in the UK. The trouble is, this does not always seem to match the reality. There is a largeish recycling facility in one corner of Morrison’s car park adjacent to James’ Watt Way. This is popular with locals and visitors to Morrison’s alike. Cardboard, tins, plastic, drinks cartons and every colour of glass can be separated and placed into dedicated hoppers for recycling. As previously mentioned, it is so convenient for me that I don’t use the services of the door to door bin collectors – and anyway I don’t want smelly and unsightly dustbins in my front garden. To this end, every couple of days I walk round to the recycling facility and drop off the few bits and pieces that are ready for re-processing. Over the Christmas period, Erith residents have been very good, and taken their present packaging to the recycling centre – something the Council should be pleased with. Apparently not though; the place has not been emptied for a good couple of weeks, and with the influx of Christmas related stuff for recycling, it has turned into an utter mess. People come to deposit their waste in the relevant hoppers, find them already jam – packed and end up just leaving bags of stuff on the ground. I saw at least two rats in amongst the waste, and if I saw two, you can guarantee that there were several dozen others that I did not see. I feel that the Council are sending out a mixed message – do as we say, not as we do. If they wanted to be seen as serious in their support for recycling, they would have ensured that the waste hoppers were emptied in good time; not everyone was on holiday over the entire Christmas period. I am sure that there would have been a number of council employees who would have been glad of the work. As it is, the facilities could have done with at least two emptying sessions over the festive period. Pull your socks up, Bexley Council!

Several noteworthy local people have done well in the Queen’s New Year honours. Children’s book illustrator Quentin Blake has garnered himself a Knighthood for his services to literature. He’s lived in Sidcup all of his life, and as a boy was a pupil of Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School. Another (and to my mind more prominent) person who has got a gong is Kate Bush, who originally hails from Welling (not Bexleyheath as everyone says – her parents house, is in Wickham Street, Welling, adjacent to the riding school and the cemetery). Bush was awarded a CBE, which is pretty impressive, but I think she should have got a KBE. In case you are confused by the honours system, here is a very brief summary. The lowest honour is an MBE, then an OBE, then a CBE, then a KBE- which is the full Knighthood. / Damehood. I think that our Kate has done more than enough to justify the award of a KBE rather than a CBE. She totally revolutionised the whole singer / songwriter genre, and has been hugely influential to the while UK music industry. The good thing is that honours can (and often are) upgraded over time. *Update* Since I started writing this piece, I have discovered that regular Maggot Sandwich reader Teresa S has been granted an OBE, which is richly deserved for her work. I would like to offer her my congratulations! One thing with the honours system is that you can never hold two honours awards concurrently. I have seen statements in the press saying things like “Sir Fred Bloggs OBE”. Well, Sir Fred may now be a KBE, but he cannot hold a lower award – in this case an OBE at the same time – the higher award cancels the lower award, and under the rules, the recipient is supposed to return the lower award to the crown office, though in reality this rarely happens, and I understand that it is not chased up. How do I know all this about the honours system? Well, when my friend Lt. Col Steve Fraser got his MBE four years ago, he was given a thick book about the award protocols and precedence of the honours system before he actually went to the palace to get his gong. I had a good read though this official publication, which is where the information comes from .

The 2013 Bexley Beer Festival has been announced, and a new venue has been selected. The 8th annual Bexley Beer Festival will take place between the 4th and the 6th of April at the Old Dartfordian’s Club, located in Old Bexley opposite the Black Prince roundabout. The entrance fee has yet to be announced, but CAMRA members will get a discount as usual. I think this is a cunning choice of new location; it is more central to the borough, and it has far better public transport links than the old Sidcup Sports Centre venue, which was so remote it meant that a cab was the only practical travel solution. Plenty of buses stop almost right outside – you can read full details of the festival on the Bexley CAMRA website here.
I have for a very long time been of the opinion that there is little point in having a rule or law if it is not going to be enforced or invigilated. This could be said to be no more true when it comes to members of the public smoking in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre. Despite prominent and profuse “No Smoking” signs, people continue to ignore them and smoke like chimneys; on Wednesday evening I was walking past the Mambocino coffee shop / cafe when I saw a couple sitting at one of the outside tables; both were puffing away, directly under a sign banning that very activity. Not only are there signs on the walls, but the cafe’s tables have signs fixed to their table tops – it would be virtually impossible not to see them. I am , and always have been a personal libertarian. My view is that a person should be able to do pretty much as they wish, providing it causes no harm or distress to others. I do feel that those smokers in the shopping centre are being selfish and arrogant, but at the same time, nobody ever stops them – not the shop owners or the security guard, who is a lot less evident than he used to be. If the rules are not being enforced, then what is the point of the rules in the first place? One could argue that the smoking ban should be self enforcing, but when one considers some of the people who flout it, one might well be under the impression that breaking a smoking ban was the least offence they were guilty of. I saw two scrawny scrotes on the public benches outside Matelan a couple of weeks ago. They were comparing ankle tags and boasting of how they had been sentenced to them.  Needless to say both appeared to be smoking jazz cigarettes with impunity. Delightful.

The ending video is a bit of fun; it was made by staff of the Science and Technology news website "The Register" - a site I would highly recommend. It is up to date and informative, and also has a sense of humour. The video features some proposed new measurements of size, volume and force, amongst others. It should make you laugh. Please leave a comment in the box below, and don't forget to let me know about the new look and feel of the Maggot Sandwich.

1 comment:

    Loving the new look, a lot cleaner and smoother looking.