Back in August, I ran a feature on the installation of the electric vehicle (EV) charging point located at the Eastern end of the Morrison's supermarket car park in Erith. At the time, the workers on site told me that the charging unit would be up and running in around two weeks. Now we are in the first week of December, the unit is in place, and it actually went live some time late on Thursday afternoon. Local EV expert and Maggot Sandwich official correspondent for all things electric, Miles writes:- "On Thursday evening Hugh shared some great news, Geniepoint in collaboration with Morrisons have activated the 50kW Rapid charger at home here in Erith. Never one to miss an opportunity I deliberately ran down the battery on my electric car all ready to see how she would perform. After parking up, the first minor hurdle was the CHAdeMO connector (a soon to be dead charging standard in favour of CCS) was on the opposite side of the bay to where my charge port is accessible. Luckily with a bit of fettling I was able to pull the cable over with little grace. It appears the designers of the EVBox had the forethought to provide a little extra slack by mounting the cable quite high, somewhat like the hand car wash within the petrol station. After fiddling with the cables I headed over to the charge unit to start the charge. Oddly the touchscreen display requested an "Activation Card, an immediate non-starter I thought - historically you would need to join every brand of charger to get their particular type of swipe card! This has caused me no end of aggravation over the years, especially if for some reason the charger failed. I thought I'd take a punt and wave my credit card furiously at the display and as if by magic it sprung to life with relays clicking on and off and fans spinning up - it's alive. Surprisingly the charge process began almost immediately, that almost never happens, it usually requires a certain amount of fettling and rude words. Within 20 seconds of presenting my credit card the car began charging. Initially the charge rate was a paltry 18kW, quite a bit less than the advertised 50kW. At this point it was time to take a quick dash around Morrisons to replenish the supplies. After about 15-20 minutes I headed back to the car to see how we were doing. Sadly the charge speed had not increased much, it rose to about 22kW, but that said even the brief time I was in the supermarket the car had gained 20 miles of range, not bad at all for a quick nip to the shops. Disengaging the charger was easy enough, a quick press of the keyfob and I was able to unlock the charger, pop back the cable and continue my day. Checking my credit card, I haven't yet been charged; however, Genie point advertise they will put an initial £8 "hold" on your card to cover your session. Where it gets a little more pricey is the rather steep kWh cost of 42 pence. Whilst Hugh did remind me it was still cheaper than a trip to the petrol station, it is quite a lot more expensive than my home unit rate of 14p/kWh. That said, you are ultimately paying for convenience and speed. The location of the charger is quite discreet, tucked around the back of the store in a quiet spot. Asda when they rolled out a similar scheme many years ago put chargers typically where disabled spaces would be placed. This had a few fairly serious drawbacks, firstly removing parking from those who need it most, lazy individuals with non-electric cars blocking a bay and finally, drawing unwanted attention to your vehicle (which had been known to lead to vandalism). All in all, it's one of the better located units I've used. Whilst I have mentioned it in previous articles to Hugh, I do worry the weight and bulk of the connectors and cables may be an impediment to those less able bodied. As I understand the latest Tesla Superchargers (v3) use a liquid cooled cable which means the physical mass is significantly lower and subsequently easier to move. In closing, it's a clean and efficient installation and I hope more are to follow as we see ever growing numbers of EVs on the road". Thanks Miles for an extremely detailed and exhaustive report. Time will tell how much use the Morrison's EV charging station gets, as at the time of writing, very few people are aware of its existence. Let me know what you think by Emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world’s first business computer went into operation 70 years ago last week. LEO, the world's first computer for business, ran one of the first enterprise applications after several experimental test runs. Built for British catering and tea shop giant J Lyons, the Lyons Electronic Office, dubbed LEO, took inspiration from the Cambridge EDSAC, which ran its first programs in 1949. The LEO, however, was business-focused, and was initially used for the firm's bakery valuation jobs (which were run weekly) before expanding its reach into more of J Lyons' back-office functions, such as payroll. Records published by the Centre for Computing History show the first successful program ran in three parts, starting on 28 November 1951. The final part was completed on 30 November, 1951. The notebooks of Ernest Lenaerts, who worked on the computer at the time, document the excitement of the successful run of the first part with "P1 completed today without any hitches!" on 28 November, 1951. As for the beast itself, around 2,500 square feet of floor space at Cadby Hall on London's Hammersmith Road was devoted to its construction. Fast paper tape readers were used to feed data into the machine; its memory (ultrasonic delay-line memory was based on tanks of mercury) came to nearly 9kB (greater than EDSAC) and, of course, this was in the days of vacuum tubes / valves. LEO itself would go on to take on more tasks, eventually attracting the attention of agencies such as the UK's Met Office and kicking off the concept of outsourcing as Lyons began running calculations for other companies. As for that original LEO, it would be followed by the LEO II and III, and LEO Computers would eventually be merged into the English Electric Company (EEC). EEC itself would be folded into ICL as the 1960s drew to a close. And J Lyons? Despite the efficiencies introduced by its pioneering use of computers in a business setting, it settled into a lengthy decline. The Science Museum of London notes that the last of the LEOs, owned by the Post Office and used for calculating telephone bills, went out of service in 1981, the same year that the last of the Lyons teashops closed. Unfortunately all of the LEO computers were broken for scrap, and nothing remains of the revolutionary devices today.
The local area has been home to many famous and influential people, several of whom I have featured in the Maggot Sandwich in the past; one figure that I think is somewhat of a standout is a somewhat larger than life character who lived in Bexleyheath for many years. Lenny McLean was was an English boxer, bouncer, criminal and prisoner, author, businessman, bodyguard, enforcer, weightlifter, television presenter and actor, and has been referred to as "the hardest man in Britain" by the tabloid press. McLean's pugilist reputation began in the East End of London in the late 1960s and was sustained through to the mid-1980s. He once stated that he had been involved in up to 4,000 unlicensed fight contests. In his later life, McLean became an actor, playing Barry The Baptist in Guy Ritchie's 1998 British gangster comedy film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Lenny McLean was born into a large working-class family in Hoxton in the East End of London. His father, Leonard McLean senior, had been a Royal Marine during the Second World War, but after being debilitated by a near-fatal disease which he contracted in India, he became a petty criminal and swindler. He died when Lenny was four years old, and was buried in a pauper's grave, as many working class men of the time were. Lenny's mother, Rose, married again to Jim Irwin, who was, like her first husband, a career petty criminal. Lenny's new stepfather was also a violent alcoholic, who physically abused Lenny and his brothers for many years. By the age of ten, McLean had suffered many broken bones. However, when Lenny's infant brother Raymond was beaten brutally with a belt, McLean's great-uncle Jimmy Spinks, a feared local gangster, attacked Irwin, nearly killing him, and threatened to cut his throat should he ever need to return to protect the children again. Lenny admired his great-uncle thereafter and when he became a street fighter he said that he considered every victory to be won on behalf of his vulnerable younger self. He expressed the rage resulting from his abusive childhood with such abandon that often it would take several men to separate him from his defeated opponent. During his teenage years, McLean mixed with various criminals for whom he ran errands. He was arrested for petty crimes and served 18 months in prison. After he was dismissed from his first legitimate job for beating up his foreman, he worked at odd jobs. By the age of fifteen, McLean realised he could earn a living from fighting and pursued it as his main means of income. McLean's first unlicensed boxing match came about as a result of a chance meeting while in his late teens: when his car broke down in the Blackwall Tunnel he abandoned it and went to buy a replacement from an associate known as Kenny Mac, a gypsy used-car salesman in Kingsland Road, Hackney, only to find the replacement quickly failed too. McLean returned later to demand his money back, but rather than repay it, Kenny Mac offered to give McLean a new car in exchange for McLean fighting in one of Mac's organised unlicensed boxing bouts later that night in Kenny's yard. McLean's opponent was just under 7 feet (210 cm) tall and weighed 20 stone; he lasted less than a minute against McLean, earning McLean £500, a considerable prize at the time. Kenny Mac and McLean became friends and on numerous later bouts Mac acted as McLean's boxing manager, with McLean subsequently becoming the best-known bare-knuckle street fighter in Britain. With his growing fame, McLean also became known as "The King of Bouncers" around many of the clubs and pubs in London. McLean was also a publican, holding joint ownership of a public house in the East End of London named the "Guv'Nors" along with Charlie Kray, elder brother of the Kray twins, reputed to be the "most legitimate" of the three brothers. McLean was also been described as a "fixer" and a "minder" (or bodyguard) for criminals and celebrities including Mike Reid, Freddie Starr, Henry Simpson, Boy George, and the casts of television shows such as EastEnders and The Bill. According to McLean's autobiography, his name was useful for the smooth progress of various criminal dealings, and to warn off members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Mafia. In 1992, McLean released an album of Elvis Presley covers. The album was entitled 'Lenny Sings...'. He claimed "The King meets The Guvnor. It's sure to be a winner." His lead single 'Blue Suede Shoes' failed to break into the top 200 and the album was subsequently scrapped. Being the best-known figure in unlicensed boxing produced for McLean not only fans, but also enemies, including some of his rivals's supporters, and some who had lost money betting on McLean's opponents. McLean also made enemies from years of ejecting people from pubs and clubs. He suffered two bullet wounds from separate attacks, and was attacked from behind and stabbed on two occasions. McLean has said that he later caught up with and punished one of his assailants, a drug addict named Barry Dalton, who had attempted to shoot McLean at his home while his children were in the house. Dalton had also made many other enemies, and a year later was found dead with a bullet in his head, a murder for which McLean asserted his innocence. Separately it has been stated that the murder of Dalton was ordered by a gang of East London gangsters, and that the murder was completely unrelated to McLean. McLean was featured prominently in a television documentary on nightclub security staff, titled Bounce: Behind The Velvet Rope. He gravitated towards acting after being introduced to an agent by three long-term show-business friends, Henry Simpson, Mike Reid and Freddie Starr, for whom with Archie Mills he had "minded", and also after "minding" the cast of television shows such as EastEnders and The Bill. After playing a brief un-billed cameo as a ringside spectator in the film of The Krays (1990), McLean appeared in such roles as Eddie Davies in ITV's Customs drama The Knock, and moved to other roles such as that of a police chief in The Fifth Element (1997), his largest acclaimed role being in Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), playing the part of 'Barry The Baptist'. During the filming of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels McLean was struck ill by what he believed to be the flu. He was subsequently diagnosed with pleurisy, although further X-ray examination proved he was suffering from lung cancer which had metastasised to his brain. He died shortly afterwards on 28 July 1998, at his long term home in Bexleyheath, a few weeks prior to the release of the film. Director Guy Ritchie dedicated the film to him and had billboards for the film changed to feature McLean in tribute.
Whilst not strictly local, I was interested to read last week that a Bromley based Indian restaurant has won a major award. The British Curry Awards, which were celebrated last Monday night at Evolution London in Battersea, saw restaurateurs from across the country attend for what is considered one of the most prestigious nights in the UK’s culinary calendar. Now in its 17th year, the evening marked the first in-person awards since 2019, with last year’s ceremony a virtual edition as a concession to the pandemic. This year’s celebrations were presented by comic Omid Djalili. Shampan Bromley, which is one of three Shampan sites, picked up the award for “Best Restaurant London – Outer & Suburbs”. Since opening in 2002, the restaurant has been named as one of the top 10 restaurants in this category seven times.
One subject that I first touched upon way back in August 2013 was my prediction that 3D television was going to be a massive technological dead end, and would prove increasingly irrelevant. Back then I wrote:- "It would appear that consumers are buying the TV’s despite the 3D features, not because of them. My suspicions regarding this were confirmed recently when I had a detailed conversation with the senior A/V installation engineer from local electronics retailer Wellington’s and he confirmed my suspicions. He said that people buy smart TV’s mainly for applications such as BBC iPlayer and other streaming “catch up” services – the other smart functions are generally regarded as a novelty – as is 3D". Since then, things have moved on. The reasons that 3D television failed to make a dent on the consumer market are multiple and complex, but they can be summarised as:- 1) To view the 3D effect on a TV you had to wear special glasses. And, get this, there were competing standards that determined which glasses you had to use. Some TV makers (led by Panasonic and Samsung) adopted a system referred to as "active shutter". In this system, viewers had to wear glasses that used shutters that alternately opened and closed, synchronized with alternately displayed left and right eye images on the TV to create the 3D effect. However, other manufacturers (led by LG) adopted a system referred to as "passive polarised", in which the TV displayed both the left and right images at the same time, and the required glasses used polarization to provide the 3D effect. A major problem was that the glasses used with each system were not interchangeable. If you owned a 3D TV that required active glasses, you could not use passive glasses or vice versa. To make matters worse, even though you could use the same passive glasses with any 3D TV that used that system, with TVs that used the active shutter system, you couldn't necessarily use the same glasses with different brands. This meant that glasses for Panasonic 3D TVs might not work with a Samsung 3D TV as the synchronisation requirements were different. 2) Another problem with 3D TV is that 3D images are much dimmer than 2D images, and at a lower resolution - the TV has to split the display into two separate and subtly different images, effectively halving the resolution and brightness of each image in the process. As a result, TV makers made the big mistake of not incorporating increased light output technologies into 3D TVs to compensate. However, what is ironic, is that with the introduction of HDR technology in 2015, TVs began to be made with increased light output capability. This would have benefited the 3D viewing experience, but in a counter-intuitive move, TV makers decided to dump the 3D viewing option, focusing their efforts on implementing HDR and improving 4K resolution performance, without keeping 3D in the mix. 3) Another setback was the decision not to include 3D into 4K broadcasting standards, so, by the time the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc format was introduced in late 2015, there was no provision for implementing 3D on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs, and no indication from movie studios to support such a feature. 4) Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video can support up to 8K video streaming - if you have a very fast fibre connection, but they do not support 3D at any video resolution. Bearing in mind the dominance of streaming over Blu Ray nowadays, this effectively confirms the end of 3D. What do you think? Email me at email@example.com.
Last Tuesday I received an interesting Email from local Councillor Nicola Taylor; here is an excerpt from her message:- “A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a family that use the food bank and they commented that they had never been to the theatre. Given that their current circumstances sadly it is likely that treat would be denied them still. Every year my family have enjoyed the Panto at Erith Playhouse and it is part of our Christmas tradition, I can't imagine not having the opportunity to shout "He's behind you" or "Oh no its not" at a pantomime dame or evil villain (but that's enough about the House of Commons). With the playhouse not being able to put on performances during the pandemic it is great that we are able to see shows again and they also need our support. Hence my latest idea. I am asking people and businesses to sponsor a ticket to the panto for a low-income family that need a treat. If they would like to help, can they email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send them details of how to order tickets so that we can sit families together. Any tickets that we get will be distributed by the Erith Food Bank at Queen Street, who have several families that they work with for whom this will be a much valued memory”. I think this is an excellent idea, and well worthy of support. The pantomime at the Erith Playhouse is a well established seasonal tradition that I feel would be even better if shared with all members of the local community, irrespective of their background or level of income.
The end video this week is a continuation of the first article in this week's Blog update. It features EV correspondent Miles in his very first use of the brand new Electric Vehicle charger unit, located in the car park of the Erith Morrison's supermarket. Comments and feedback to me at email@example.com.