An alarming story has been circulating recently from a number of different sources. It covers a new kind of both theft and fraud. Parts of the following story were originally published on the My London website. The specific incident involves a single Mum with small children. The lady had a series of problems with her pay as you go gas meter, which in course led to a criminal investigation. She assumed there was an issue with her boiler which had led to the gas supply being shut off, as she had some problems with it since moving into the property three years ago. She reset the boiler, but to no avail. The lady told My London: "I thought, 'that's strange as I've paid my gas bill, why is there no gas?' I had no reason to not have any gas. So I called the Southern Gas Networks [which manages distribution in the region], they told me to turn off the supply from the main gas meter." An engineer arrived at the lady's flat within two hours due to the risk of a gas leak. She continued: "I turned off the gas supply on the meter that I always thought was mine, but it turned out that was my neighbour's, and I've been paying for my neighbour's gas. The engineer showed me which meter was actually mine and it had nothing inside."The engineer informed her it had most likely been stolen, something that is reportedly on the rise as people attempt to trick their energy supplier into thinking they are using little or no gas. As the lady explained: "The engineer said, they will take the meter they stole and replace their own with it, reap the benefits of high heating and gas, and a few days before they are due to give a meter reading, they will switch it back to their previous meter, give the reading for that and have free gas for a month."As well as the inconvenience of being without gas while the meter is replaced, this type of theft is putting the victims at risk from leaking gas. the lady said "the pipes around her meter were not closed off - something an energy company would do to ensure safety - which meant gas could simply pour out of the pipes. You could turn the main supply on and the gas would just pour out into the air. It's right outside my children's window. If someone had come and taken that and not turned the supply off, my children's room could have been flooded with gas and I would have been none the wiser." Thankfully, it's not thought there had been any serious leak as it appeared the gas supply had been turned off during the theft. The mum-of-two also informed her energy supplier, EDF energy, about the incident. She was left without gas until the next day, when the meter was replaced. She says the engineer from Southern Gas Networks left the family with two electric heaters, and an electronic two-pot counter top stove. She praised both her energy supplier and distributor for resolving the issue quickly. Commenting on the trend of this type of theft, an EDF spokesperson said: "Credit gas meters are stolen to fit into a different property without suppliers' knowledge, so the thief can use the energy without paying the bill. We have seen cases of this nationally, not just in London, and want to stress to customers that if their gas meter has been stolen it is important to raise a gas emergency at the property as soon as possible to make sure there isn't a gas leak." To raise a gas emergency call the National Gas emergency helpline on 0800 111 999.
The photo above shows Erith railway station in the Spring of 1969, with a train waiting at the Dartford bound platform. What strikes me about the historic photo is how much more industrialised Erith was back then. A photograph taken from the same location now would show a far more residential environment in the background. A fascinating glimpse of the not so distant past.
I was quietly minding my own business, standing in the checkout queue in Morrison’s earlier this week, when I was violently jabbed in the side by an elbow; startled, I looked around and saw an elderly bloke – probably in his mid to late seventies. He looked like a shorter and less immaculately tailored version of Noel Coward in his later years, albeit with a purplish nose, less hair and a growth of stubble. OK, actually not a lot like Noel Coward at all, but you get the idea. I would have normally given the deliverer of the elbow jab a sharp piece of my mind, but in consideration of his advanced years, I thought better of it and held my tongue. The man then said something indistinct; I decided that I would ignore him and returned my attention to the progress of the checkout queue. Moments later I heard a commotion behind me; the man slurred to the woman behind me “Let me in here – I have only got three items” – he sounded drunk, but then I thought that with his age, he could have had a stroke affecting his speech, or some other impediment. My charitable thoughts were interrupted as a blast of whisky fumes hit me like a smelly whirlwind – he reeked of booze and was clearly rather more than a little over refreshed. Fearing for my eyebrows, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and hoped that he would not make any more of a scene. A difficult situation due mainly due to his age and apparent infirmity. Goodness me, he did whiff. Hopefully it was a one off. I just hope when he does turn up his toes that they don’t cremate him as I reckon he’d go up like a Roman candle and take a week to go out!
It would seem that once again a very interesting and worthwhile community event has taken place, but which has had little to no publicity. I only found out about it as I walked past the location where the event was being held and saw a poster outside of the door. I went in an spoke to three delightful ladies who told me about the series of events that have already taken place, and some of those yet to come. The series of events are described thus:- "Following a six-month creative mentoring programme designed to support a group of local, non-professional artists from global majority backgrounds to connect, care, create and share their everyday creative practices with each other and the wider community, the free exhibition featuring painting, photography, ceramics, textiles, print and wig-making, will open to the public this October at 68 Pier Rd in Erith.
Did you know that Erith was once one of the centres of English cricketing excellence? What is now the Europa Industrial Estate was once a cricket pitch and recreation ground? On Saturday 20th September 1884 a local team of sixteen played an eleven raised By a Mr. H.H Hyslop - a local businessman, from the Australian touring side of that year. Hyslop's Australian team won. A similar match took place between another scratch Australian team again put together by Mr. Hyslop on the 3rd May 1890. The Erith local team was composed of eighteen local men, pitted against a visitors team which included nine members of the Australian test side. This match resulted in a draw. Hopes for a rematch were dashed when the cricket ground was sold and a heavy engineering factory built on the site. Nevertheless, local historians refer to the matches as "when Erith took on the Australians". As many of you know, I am not a sports fan, but it is fascinating to discover, as I have done during my research for this weeks' entry, that Erith and the surrounding have been pivotal in the development of several now major sports. Football had much of its' origins in Erith in the early 1880's. Prior to 1885-1886, only Rugby Union was played in Erith - there were three clubs in the area; Star Rovers RFC played on Lesness Heath, near the Eardley Arms pub. Erith Raven RFC played on the recreation ground adjacent to the aforementioned cricket ground, and lastly, Erith Anglo - Normans RFC played on Faulkner's Meadow. This club had to be disbanded when the meadow was purchased, and the Nordenfeldt gun works was built on the site; no suitable alternative playing ground could be found for the club and it was wound up. In April 1885 Association Football was introduced to Erith by a gentleman called Bernard Beard, who came to Easton and Anderson's engineering works as manager of the boiler shop. A club was formed, called Erith F.C which played on an area then called Hartley's Meadow - which was located on the banks of the River Thames, just of what is now Lower Road. As a result of a personal dispute between club members, a rival club was established called Erith Avenue F.C. At first, as they had no ground, they were forced to play all of their games away, but they later were successful in securing a ground in what is now Avenue Road. Meanwhile, Erith F.C relocated from Hartley's Meadow to Lower Belvedere. Several members of the team subsequently played for Woolwich Arsenal F.C, what was later to become the current Premier League Arsenal club. The present Erith and Belvedere football club was founded in 1922 and had its' ground adjacent to Belvedere railway station for many years, until arsonists destroyed their main clubhouse and Park View stand in 1997. The club soldiered on for two years, using portakabins on the site, until they entered into a ground sharing arrangement with Welling United in 1999, which is still in place to this day.
Who says that I don't plan these things? Erith & Belvedere Football Club is celebrating its centenary, and as part of the celebrations, regular Blog reader Brian has written a book on the history of the local club. "Available now - the centenary history of Erith and Belvedere FC, "A Century of Deres". 100 years in the life of a football club and 100 people who shaped it. £12 from the author at Deres games or £14.99 incl p&p by sending your details to ACoDbook@gmail.com . A fabulous historical account charting the last 100 years. What an unbelievable feat of research and dedication to produce this fantastic piece of work. I would urge everyone who has Erith & Belvedere FC in their blood to buy one…” – Tony Beckingham, Erith & Belvedere manager. "Brilliant memories ... not put it down since receiving it" – Gary Groom, ex-Dere. “Brilliantly put together and the 100 profiles are great” – Phil Nourse, Charlton Life. “Detailed and extremely well researched” – Non League Paper".
The following article was written by a guest contributor, who for reasons which will soon become apparent has decided to remain anonymous:- "For a while now candidates interviewing for self employed, contracting jobs have been on the back foot. With the field becoming ever more attractive the number of applicants for each job has gone stratospheric. As a consequence employers use a number of techniques to raise the bar and suppress remuneration. I want to turn the tables and game them for once. Create one or more shadow LinkedIn profiles with skill sets that either match your own, or are focused towards roles you would like. With these profiles you can engage recruiters, investigate interviewers and explore roles without exposing your personal profile. Shadow profiles are invaluable. Let’s say you’d like a role at MicroGoople. If you apply using one of your shadow profiles you’ll get an insight into interview questions, technical tests and format. Often many processes are intentionally obfuscated to challenge the interviewee, using this technique allows you to front run their bullshit and give yourself a step up. Using the same approach you can explore remuneration. Experience has taught me the hard way that going over or under a hiring manager's budget can result in an offer being withdrawn. Using your shadow profile you can ask the hard questions without causing any rifts between you and the employer - as much as people pretend the interview process is objective, it isn’t - you need to work around it. Networking is king. I’ve seen first hand interviews Googling a candidate's Facebook and online profiles. They will reach out to your current and previous peers. This is probably not overly shocking but it is a reminder you need to curate and be aware of your IRL and online persona. Where you can use your own network to find out as much as you can about your interviewer. Each person will have their own approach to interviewing, if you can head that off at the pass you can prepare accordingly. Be their best friend. Read up on neuro linguistic programming. If you can mirror your interviewer, make them believe you’re just like them, you are much more likely to sail through the interview. Everyone’s favourite person is themselves, remember that".
Following all of the disruption to traffic using the Dartford Crossing last week, I thought that a short video on the history of the crossing would be appropriate. As always, any comments, feedback or future content suggestions should be sent to me at email@example.com.