Sunday, December 25, 2022


My recent articles on the situation with Erith Morrison's supermarket and their intention to remove all but four staffed check out tills and replace them with self service checkouts has caused concern among Maggot Sandwich readers, if the volume of email I have been receiving over the last couple of weeks is anything to go by. One reader, and occasional contributor, who chooses to remain anonymous writes:- "Just a quick reply regarding those bl**dy self checkouts. I'm not sure who they serve, all customers look incredibly frustrated. The staff, and I've spoken to them, are run off their feet. I fail to see how their 'shrinkage' costs outweigh their staffing costs. The number of miss-scans etc I've had must have added to that loss. As of now I prefer to drive to Salisbury's in Crayford or Abbey Wood for more or less this very reason - sadly they are following suit. What I don't understand is why these supermarkets didn't implement the RFID tags. A friend of mine worked for Flooid (a point of sale systems manufacturer and software company) told me ten years ago they had a prototype system up and running for Marks & Spencer where a customer could walk through an arch with their trolley and have their bill instantly charged to their phone. All I can assume is it was either too expensive or if it did have issues, the entire trolley would have to be unloaded". In a recent development, self service shoppers at some branches of Sainsbury's are having to follow some very restrictive rules. If customers don't print and scan their receipts, they won't be able to leave the shop. Many took to social media to share their thoughts with some saying the lack of trust from the supermarket is "insulting". Others found the change unnecessary as most people don't print their receipts when using the self-checkouts. A social media user commented: "I'd be b*ggered. I've never once hit the 'receipt' button on the self-service till."Another one said: "Essentially they are holding [people] hostage against their will as they refuse to let people leave without scanning a receipt that not everyone chooses to get in the first place. "What will they do? Hold someone hostage and rifle through bags before releasing you?" A Twitter user added: "I've been loyal to Sainsbury's for 30 years. Now it stops. How dare you insult me, by scanning receipts to leave. Not even the discounters to this. No warning, no in-store signage and it doesn't work, my receipt had to be reprinted. Farewell, you un-trusting store." Rumours have surfaced every so often about the future of Erith Morrison’s supermarket; back in 2015 a story did the rounds that the store was to be sold off to Aldi or Lidl, but when the claim was investigated, it came to nothing. I get the feeling that this story was prompted by the fate of Waitrose at Dartford, which closed with the loss of 120 jobs. It later became an Aldi outlet, and seems to be doing well now. Rumours have again surfaced about Morrisons – now that it is no longer a member of the “Big Four” of the largest supermarket operators in the UK. Following the recently reported changes to Erith Morrisons – and the forthcoming removal of all but for staffed checkouts and the increase in the number of self service checkouts, questions have been asked concerning the long term viability of Morrisons as an ongoing business. The two giant German discount supermarkets – Aldi and Lidl are making huge inroads into the UK, and historically the main strength Morrison’s had was that it was a family owned business with strong links to the North of the UK. Now it is owned by a US private equity firm, its unique selling point is gone, and it is now just another grocery store. I would not be surprised if the two German behemoths take an aggressive stance in respect of a competitor that they may see as failing. Whatever the result, it does start to sound like the Morrison’s supermarket at Erith may be under some kind of threat – a real worry, bearing in mind I understand it employs around five hundred full and part time staff. The town needs a large sized supermarket, and indeed, the Erith Morrison’s store was one of the first the then Bradford, West Yorkshire based company opened in the South, back in 1999. I recall being served by the then company Chairman, Sir Ken Morrison, on the day the Erith store opened. The supermarket definitely forms an integral part of the contemporary DNA of Erith, and any changes would have wide ranging implications. I really don’t want to set any hares running, but it would seem that the supermarket sector is in real disarray at present; changes look like they are indeed happening, and Erith may not escape them. It is all early days, but I will be keeping tabs on this story in the months that come.

On a somewhat lighter note, I had a conversation on Friday afternoon with one of the assistant managers in Morrison's in Erith; I was very surprised to discover that their most popular food item sold in the period between Christmas and the New Year is sliced bread and bread rolls. It was explained to me that many people have leftover turkey, beef and gammon from their Christmas meal, and rather than eat anything very elaborate, they buy bread in order to turn the leftovers into sandwiches. I suppose that it makes sense, though it had never occurred to me before. I do know that the bakery in Northumberland Heath has been working overtime - it bakes bread under contract for a number of retailers, including Marks and Spencer, so maybe the Christmas / New Year sandwich tradition is something common to the wider country, and not just the local area.

The map above dates back to pre - war times; it shows the main shops and facilities that existed in Erith High Street back in 1930. What strikes me is the quality and diversity of retail outlets in the town back then - it must have been a real treat to go shopping in Erith ninety two years ago. If you have any historical memories of Erith - or indeed any photos from the past that you would like to see me feature - with of course full credit to yourself should you so wish, then please get in contact with me -

I have frequently bemoaned social networks like Facebook, and how some people seem to publish all sorts of intimate and what one would have thought were private details about themselves. If that were not bad enough, the professional social networking site LinkedIn is now the target for organised cyber criminals. LinkedIn, which has over 740 million users globally, is a prime target for scammers looking to connect with professionals across a variety of industries, including information security and oil and gas. Scammers copy information from real LinkedIn profiles to pose as recruiters and attract new connections. Security analyst Symantec have been investigating the situation. They found that most of these fake accounts followed a specific pattern. They bill themselves as recruiters for fake firms or are supposedly self-employed and primarily use photos of women pulled from stock image sites or of real professionals. The primary goal of these fake LinkedIn accounts is to map out the networks of business professionals. Using these fake LinkedIn accounts, scammers are able to establish a sense of credibility among professionals in order to initiate further connections. In addition to mapping connections, scammers can also scrape contact information from their connections, including personal and professional email addresses as well as phone numbers. Symantec said LinkedIn users should be very sceptical of who they add to their network.  “If you’ve never met the person before, don’t just add them. We weren’t surprised to learn that these fake LinkedIn accounts received endorsements from real users”. I would add to this by recommending that if you are a LinkedIn user, and you receive a request from someone that you don’t know, do a Google search on the person to see what you can find out about them – and if they actually exist at all. As always, be careful; once something is online about you, it is impossible to remove it. Publishing anything online is very much a one – way process.

With the recent bitterly cold weather, and the ongoing cost of living crisis, many people around the UK and further afield have been looking at cheaper and more efficient ways of heating their houses. Some people have come up with ingenious and inventive solutions, but as well as that, scammers and confidence tricksters have taken advantage of the situation. One widely advertised heater is know as the EcoQuest, as can be seen in the image above - click on it to see a larger version. You can see the EcoQuest website by clicking here. Beware - it is a scam. The heater vendors describe the device thus -"The national weather services are reporting that it is going to be a SUPER COLD WINTER, maybe one of the coldest for decades. Are you prepared? Experts estimate that with the latest rise in energy prices it will cost Britons on average £1,622 this winter on heating bills! That's why thousands are quickly changing to a much cheaper alternative to heat their homes. Saving them hundreds of pounds and keeping them warm wherever they go. One heater in particular has been making headlines, with a 99.8% energy efficiency and only costing a fraction of the price of similar high-tech heaters from other big brands. With almost a million units sold worldwide, this ultra-efficient heater is quickly becoming the most successful device of 2022. This new type of heater has an incredible 99.8% efficiency. Losing almost no power to energy leakage. It's better for the environment and your wallet. It heats up any mid-sized room within 60 seconds. No other heater is this efficient, but what makes the EcoQuest Heater special is it's price, ultra-compact design and portability". This is blatantly false - according to The Centre for Sustainable Energy, all electric heaters are close to 100% efficient - as you can read here. More tellingly are the large number of negative Trustpilot reviews of the EcoQuest heater:- "Would give 0 stars if possible, no great heat whether on low or high and electric meter was whizzing round, not energy efficient at all, what a scam. This is a scam, the output power is just 50 Watts, that's the same output as an old style incandescent light bulb & the heat output is the same, it might work in dog kennel if kept inside but nothing bigger. I would say it worth max £5 not the exaggerated prices listed. DO NOT BUY. I am not going to buy this silly heater. I can see its a scam and its a joke product. Save your money and ignore the glowing reviews that are clearly fake. THIS IS A SCAM - AVOID AVOID - This is a scam, it doesn't work. Would not heat a cupboard let alone a room. Based on other peoples experience you'll be lucky if it actually turns up. If it sounds too good to be true.... These heaters are useless. I don't need to waste anymore energy making any more comments. End of. What a scam. the reviews on their "website" are fake. its just a target ad to con you into buying this useless junk. SCAM total SCAM - how anyone can be taken in by this Garbage is un-believable, do your self a huge favour AND don't BUY. Complete scam. Avoid". If a heater of that small size was in reality able to heat a mid sized room in 60 seconds, it would melt; also the advert does not say what temperature the mid sized room was at, and what temperature it reached after 60 seconds, or indeed what the dimensions of a mid sized room are, according to them. The advert, and the product are a complete con. What do you think? Email me at

The advert above, for Erith - manufactured Burndept radio receivers was taken from the very first Christmas edition of the Radio Times, from back in 1923, the cover of which you can also see above - click on either picture for a larger image. Back then it was all very different to today's multi-channel, on-demand world. There was only radio, and London station 2LO had a meagre five-and-a-half hours of programmes on Christmas Day. But to some extent, the first Christmas Radio Times issue set many traditions which have prevailed for decades in various guises. The cover was a warm splash of colour and very festive in tone, while the publication's austere masthead was festooned with snow and holly. John Reith, who went on to become the BBC's first director general, was given the first page to deliver a message to listeners, in which he deliberated the meaning of Christmas and then inevitably talked about the joy of broadcasting and the "first Wireless Christmas". "The loud speaker is such a convenient entertainer," he wrote. "He doesn't feel hurt if a cracker is pulled in the middle of a song, or offended if the fun grows riotous during his performance". While Reith was keen to talk up the virtues of broadcasting, the magazine was packed with adverts for radio sets and cartoons about the joys of consuming radio programmes. Considering the BBC had already got a reputation as a rather austere, straight - laced organisation, the original 1923 Radio Times made for quite an easy read.

Many readers may be able to take part or all of the Christmas as a holiday break. I had one reader drop me a line, knowing my interest in radio, asking about something different for her to listen to. Initially I recommended my old station, Radio Caroline, who broadcast 24/7 online - you can listen to them by clicking here – they also broadcast to the East and South East on 648 KHz Medium Wave. Another station I personally spend a lot of my free time listening to is Radio Seagull - a radio station that was started back in the 1970's as Caroline's album - based overnight service. Nowadays Radio Seagull broadcasts live via DAB+ in the Netherlands, and worldwide online from a converted light ship - the Jenni Baynton which is (legally) moored in Harlingham Harbour in the Netherlands. The station is run by volunteers, and plays a lot of music that you simply don't hear on other radio stations. The Daily Telegraph said of the station "As if to prove that the spirit of Sixties-style pirate broadcasting never really died, this charming music station broadcasts from a ship moored in Harlingen Harbour in the Netherlands. Prog rock is the predominant flavour, with plenty of Genesis, Pink Floyd and the like; but genres as diverse as UK blues, world music and jazz also get a look in." You can visit the Radio Seagull website here.

The end video this week is something suitably festive - it features a band playing Wham's "Last Christmas" recorded live at The Exchange recently - messages and feedback to me as always at

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