Sunday, December 11, 2022


A giant mobile crane was visible on the Erith skyline on Monday; it was located in the car part of Morrison's supermarket and was being used in the construction of the forthcoming new MOT test centre, as I have previously written about. The speed of the build was astonishing - from the pouring of the concrete foundations last week, to the almost completion of the structure by the end of Thursday was pretty amazing. Power has been supplied to the building, and at the rate the work is progressing, I don't think it will be very long before the MOT test centre is up and running. 

From today, Southeastern Railway are reducing the number of trains going to Waterloo and Charing Cross on the Bexleyheath and Woolwich lines during off-peak times. According to Southeastern, the changes were made to reduce “congestion at busy junctions”, such as Lewisham, and ensure “better punctuality and fewer cancellations overall”. In an interview with the MyLondon website, Clive Efford, Labour MP for Eltham, said that it was “shameful” for the Government to agree to the service cuts. The Labour MP said that he had asked rail experts about the busy Lewisham junction during a previous issue regarding Southeastern trains terminating at Victoria. He said: “I spoke to some rail experts back then about the congestion problem at Lewisham, and they said that it was complete nonsense, what was being said about Network Rail and Southeastern at that time. There is not a problem with those trains crossing over at that point unless there’s bad maintenance and lack of investment in the infrastructure.” In response, a Southeastern spokesperson said that all trains would terminate at Cannon Street under the new timetable to reduce the “notorious bottleneck” at Lewisham station. This sounds like rubbish to me; if they have an alleged bottleneck at Lewisham, then why not run trains to Charing Cross via Greenwich, as used to be the case? Under the new timetable, Southeastern are encouraging passengers to change trains at London Bridge if they wish to continue to Charing Cross. A spokesperson for the rail service said that the station had been “re-designed specifically” under a £1 bn investment for this purpose. Abena Oppong-Asare, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, said that direct services to Waterloo are “essential” for old and disabled people in her area. She said a mum in her constituency had contacted her saying she was “incredibly distressed” by the changes. Ms Oppong-Asare said: “She said the changes mean she will no longer be able to drop her children off at school and be able to get to work by 9am, and that she may lose her job as a result.” What do you think? Email me at

As people gear up for Christmas, the whole thorny issue of gifts and gift wrapping comes up. I have a major issue with gift wrapping paper for Christmas presents; due to the treatment much of the paper receives during production, it cannot be recycled, and is especially bad for the environment, as the only way to get rid of it is to put it in landfill, or to burn it, releasing carbon into the atmosphere. What I have chosen to do is rather than wrapping Christmas presents, I will be giving them in sparkly gift bags, which can be reused, year after year. As I have previously written, this is also the reason that I don't send Christmas cards, as I believe them to be ruinously bad for the environment - wood and rags are pulped to make the cards, energy is used to print them, fossil fuels are used to transport them to the shops, electricity and gas are burned to light and heat the shops, then once they are purchased, more fossil fuels are used to deliver the cards around the planet, then after a few days they are discarded, and many cannot be recycled, due to the plastic or wax derived finishes that many cards have. On top of this, greetings cards are a vector for spreading both Flu and Covid-19 infections. The cards themselves can harbour the viruses for several days, but the main risk is in the envelope - viruses can live in the saliva used to activate the glue to seal the envelopes. This year this may all be moot - and it may actually be the beginning of the end for traditional Christmas cards, due to the ongoing, and soon to escalate Post Office workers strike, which if it goes ahead as planned will effectively kill off Christmas post deliveries. I can understand the practice in the past; when a Christmas card sent to friends and loved ones would be a form of annual communication when you might otherwise not hear from them, but nowadays this is far from the case; instant worldwide online communications mean that from my perspective, Christmas cards are consigned to the past. one can send electronic, online greetings for a fraction of the cost of a postage stamp - and the recipient will not be in danger of getting an infection. What do you think? Please Email me at

I took the photos above - click on either for a larger view - at the annual Christmas Tree Festival held at Christ Church Erith on Saturday. The event raises money for the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice. It was very well attended, despite the extremely cold weather. 

Over the last week, I have been contacted by a number of regular readers, concerned with an article in the latest Bexley Magazine - the official publication of Bexley Council, that is distributed to some local residents. I have to disclose here that I am a contributor to the content of the magazine, in that I write the quarterly Neighbourhood Watch article - though I have no editorial control over it. The issue that a couple of Blog readers had with the most recent Bexley Magazine was an article published in the current edition which featured the main shopping areas in each part of the London Borough of Bexley. The article highlighted the shops in "Nuxley Village" - which of course does not exist. The correct name is Belvedere Village, or Nuxley Road, Upper Belvedere. The name "Nuxley Village" is a fiction created by Estate Agents who know nothing of the area, or its history. The name "Belvedere" has been in existence since at least 1235 AD, when the first details of it were recorded. The name Nuxley was sometimes spelled Naxley, which in turn is a corruption of Knocksley, meaning a small hill. Nuxley Road was originally named Bexley Road, until March 1939 when it was renamed as Nuxley Road, which it remains to date. There is no record of Upper Belvedere ever having been named "Nuxley Village", and parish records for the area date back to 1235 AD, and survived the reformation, when ownership of the parish was transferred from Lesnes Abbey to the owners of Parsonage Farm (on what is now Parsonage Manor Way). During the late 19th century, Parsonage Farm was owned by the Vinson family, who were at the time rich and powerful enough to issue their own trade tokens (a kind of informal local currency). There are records that beer houses such as the Fox, and full pubs such as The Eardley Arms took trade tokens for payment for food and drink until sometime around 1900. The farm buildings, which were  constructed in the Middle Ages (principally to provide food and drink for Abbot and Monks at Lesnes Abbey) lasted until the end of WWII, when it was used to house an auxiliary fire station. After the war the building was so derelict it was demolished. Thus, the name “Nuxley Village” is a construct – a fictional creation of local estate agents who have no knowledge of the history of the area. Upper Belvedere has been so called for at least the last 787 years, and the thoughtless action of a handful of ignorant house peddlers is not going to change facts any time soon. Unfortunately an unknown author of the retail centres article in the Bexley Magazine was taken in by the fiction. What do you think about the whole situation? Email me at

The local area has been home to many famous people; but there is one who has seemed to fall off the radar in recent years, and that is of the late comedienne, writer and performer Linda Smith. Her roots, in Erith were working-class, but she stubbornly refused to fit any stereotype. She was born in the town in 1958, and was educated at Erith College of Technology (now Bexley College) and at the University of Sheffield where she graduated in English and Drama. She joined a professional theatre company before turning to comedy. In 1987, she won the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year, then known as the New London Comic Award, and performed on the Edinburgh Fringe before breaking into radio comedy. Many of her early stand-up appearances were benefit concerts staged in solidarity with the British miners during the Miners' Strike in the 1980s. She was a lifelong socialist. Her deadpan diatribes about everyday irritations resonating with millions. She studied English and Drama at Sheffield University and joined a professional touring theatre company in 1983, where she met her partner, Warren Lakin. Turning to stand-up comedy, she won the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year in 1987. Throughout the 1990s, she made the annual pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, performing her own show and collaborating with others. And the mid-90s saw the start of her prolific career on BBC radio, as a regular panellist on the former Radio Five's weekly news satire programme, The Treatment. Linda Smith appeared with Paul Merton on BBC Two's Room 101. From there she graduated to writing and performing in two critically-acclaimed series of her own Radio 4 sitcom, A Brief History of Time Wasting. She was the first woman team captain and regular on the network's News Quiz and a frequent panel guest on two long-running Radio 4 favourites, Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Linda Smith also presented Home Truths and Pick of the Week and in 2002 was voted Wittiest Person in a poll of Radio 4 listeners. She also won a following on television through several appearances on Have I Got News For You, along with Room 101, Q.I., Mock the Week, They Think It's All Over and Call My Bluff, while she contributed her own take on current affairs as a panellist on Question Time. She still managed to find time for a 35-date national tour in 2004, performing her show, Wrap Up Warm, to sell-out audiences. Linda Smith blended the topical with the personal, the political with the surreal and silly. She had a wealth of subjects to grumble about: motorway service stations, the trains, inane daytime television commercials for sun awnings or loans, all delivered in a downbeat fashion that belied a penetrating insight to social trends. Linda Smith moved effortlessly from stand-up to radio and TV. Her best known joke is somewhat unfortunate, and has poorly reflected on the local area. She once said:- “Erith isn’t twinned with anywhere, but it shares a mutual suicide pact with Dagenham”. Besides this, Linda Smith was a great fan of the rock musician and actor, Ian Dury, and president of the British Humanist Association. In this connection, she once said: "With fundamentalism on the rise, the rational voice of humanism needs to be heard”. On 17 November 2003, Smith appeared on the BBC television show Room 101, where she successfully managed to put in "adults who read Harry Potter books", Tim Henman, "Back to School signs that appear in shops" and "posh people". However, she failed to put in bow ties after host Paul Merton pointed out that Stan Laurel regularly wore a bow tie. On 27 February 2006, Smith died as a consequence of ovarian cancer at the age of 48. She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer three-and-a-half years earlier but, not wanting to be thought of as a patient or a victim, she did not want people to know. Before she died she chose that her funeral be humanist. To the best of my knowledge she currently does not have a local monument. Perhaps it is time for that to be rectified? What do you think? Email me at

Kent's Police and Crime Commissioner has warned against buying e-scooters for Christmas, saying people are misinformed over the legalities of the devices. Matthew Scott – who has been vehemently against the use of the vehicles – has discouraged their purchase as a gift this festive season. He said in an article on the Kent Online website:- "Don't buy one for Christmas. E-scooters are not covered with legislation in the same way that people think they are. Private scooters are not legal on public roads; they can only be used on private roads with the owner's permission so therefore, it's really important; don't waste money buying an e-scooter thinking you can ride it along the streets of Kent because you can't and if you get caught, there's a likelihood that police will take it off you." I am not aware of a similar announcement by the Metropolitan Police at this point.

The end video this week harks back to the very hottest day of last Summer's heatwave, when local temperatures exceeded forty degrees Celsius in the shade. Arsonists, thought to be local children, set fire to fly tipped rubbish on Wallhouse Road, on the Slade Green Marshes; the fire soon spread, causing great damage, and threatening nearby properties. The amateur video footage shows the efforts made by the emergency services to contain and extinguish the blaze. Comments and feedback to me at the usual address -

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