Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Erith Flyover?

The photo above was taken by me yesterday afternoon - it shows the abstract ship sculpture between the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre and Morrison's car park. It has survived for about four years with no apparent attempt to vandalise it, which has to be saying something. I took a few photos in the pleasant weather; the quality of light was such that several of the shots had somewhat over saturated colours, which I had to tweak using Aperture on my iMac. You can see the results by clicking here.

Today I discovered something potentially quite important relating to Erith's future development. Bexley Council have submitted a planning application for a new road bridge across the railway at the junction of Bexley Road, and Queen's Road, Erith, adjacent to Erith Railway Station. This will fundamentally impact the way travellers enter Erith from London from both the A2 (via Gravel Hill, Bexleyheath and Northumberland Heath) and the South Circular (via Bronze Age Way from Woolwich and Abbey Wood). I think that the reference to a listed building in the notice is in respect of Christ Church, which is adjacent to the site of the proposed works. It is a Grade II listed building. You can see the photo I took of the planning application, which has recently been posted near the location of the proposed work. I notice that the application is not yet showing on the Bexley Council website.

Some students at Trinity School have made a short film about the sense of community, or lack thereof in Erith. From traditional Victorian high street to a 1960s concrete jungle to a modern shopping mall, Erith's town centre has had more than a facelift as it aged. How do these changes impact on the community who live and shop in Erith? These are some of the issues explored, and quite interestingly the conclusion arrived to by the group of bright and involved teenagers is strikingly similar to those who have lived in the town for decades. Do give it a watch, and see what you think.

The photo below was taken by Ian on his iPhone - I have tarted it up a bit, as the original was suffering quite badly from ambient glare. It is quite an arty still - life composition, which quite neatly sums up the 2011 Bexley Beer Festival, held at Sidcup Sports Club over the holiday weekend. I did bump into a reader of the Maggot Sandwich, who was a fellow festival visitor. A very nice, personable chap, but I neglected to ask him his name, which is rather remiss of me. The festival was exceedingly well attended, and the beer ran out by the end of the Friday evening, meaning the final day was likely to be a wash out - not to fear; I feel that due to the extended Bank Holiday, most attendees had already made the most of the time, and had already filled their boots. The only criticism I would make of the event is the same one I have levelled before - that the venue does not permit visitors to use their excellent toilet facilities - one is compelled to visit the row of Turdises parked outside. They were well cared for, clean and not at all smelly, but a bit of a nightmare to navigate once the light faded, as they had no internal illumination. The sports centre management really need to buck their ideas up and think rather more closely about customer care and satisfaction. Having made that gripe, the event itself was extremely enjoyable, with some excellent real ales available to sample. The weather was also good - something that has almost always not been the case in previous years.

At the end of the evening, we stumped up a not unreasonable £20 for a taxi to take us to our respective abodes. The Sidcup Sports Club is around a three quarters of a mile walk from the 229 bus stop in central Sidcup, which has buses travelling back to Erith; it is then around a 45 minute bus ride back to Erith Town Centre. To me this is an unacceptably long wee mileage. Wee mileage is a concept I developed back in November 2009; I expounded it at the time, but perhaps it deserves a revisit. It encompasses irregular and unreliable public transport, the woeful lack of public toilets in this country nowadays, and the propensity which many have for going out for a quiet pint on the odd occasion. I call my theory Wee Mileage. The aforementioned factors create an artificial boundary as to how far one can travel from home, if intending to indulge in a tipple whilst out and about. Once you have left the hostelry or beer festival at the end of the evening, there is a finite amount of time available for travelling before one will be compelled to pump ones' bilges. Obviously this will vary between individuals and their personal bladder capacity / ability to hold on, the amont of liquid they have imbibed, and the ambient air temperature.  I am presupposing that one does not cheat and avail oneself of a convenient bush or dark alley. Wee mileages seem to be higher when employing a cab, mainly due to the fact one can take a last minute leak before starting the journey, and the cab will take you door to door with no waiting around at a chilly bus stop or draughty railway platform with the bladder clock ticking. This is the principal reason that I have never attended the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival at Earl's Court. The exhibition hall is admirably equipped with public conveniences, but once you leave the venue and head back to civilisation from West London the trouble starts. One would have to navigate the tube back to Charing Cross (it is possible to make a loo visit there - though if memory serves, they have the temerity to require an admission fee). After this it is fifty minutes overland by train to Erith, in a train that has a loo - but that is always locked and out of use to stop vandalism. Just too much to endure - and thus far too high a wee mileage for me to even consider.

I am sure that someone more mathematically inclined could reduce this set of half formed musings into an equation. I did start making some rough drawings of an engineering solution to the problem; my solution involved some rubber or polypropylene hose, a small tap, and a couple of rubber bands. The whole idea was to create a pipe from ones' underwear, which would lead down your trouser  leg to one side of the foot. When the user felt the need for relief where no conveniences were available, he could stand over a drain or gutter,  turn the tap and let rip at leisure. Passers by would be none the wiser. My solution was modelled on the system of trouser based bags used in The Great Escape to dispose of the tunnelling earth - they dropped it out of the bottom of each trouser leg, then scuffed it in. I excitedly told Ian of my invention, only for him to tell me that the Japanese have been marketing such devices for several years. My dreams of fame and fortune were shattered; I had hoped to do for weeing in public what Trevor Bayliss has for the wind up radio. Oh well.

The Furniture Liquidation Store (a strange name - it sounds like an extermination camp for sofas) is finally closing down. As previously mentioned, the place is currently undergoing a clearance sale; unfortunately most of their stock appears to be tat - certainly nothing to interest most people wanting quality and durability. Whether the place does become a Thai boxing gym, only time will tell. Personally a quality Thai restaurant would be a nicer proposition, though somehow I think it more than highly unlikely. The problem for anyone taking the site is straightforward. It is a large amount of floor area for a store in a small town. People do not travel especially to Erith in order to shop - they do so because they live locally. Unless you run a specialised local emporium, such as The Model Train Shop, whose business is almost exclusively web based, you are pretty restricted as to what you can retail. Erith is not a "destination" town, so large specialist shops are really out of the question. The only kind of undertaking that could successfully utilise the large store would possibly be an amalgamation of the three or four African food and clothing stores already located in the town. Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

I had a nice Email from Nick Jackson of Absolute Radio yesterday. Nick and I were shipmates on the Ross Revenge, home of Radio Caroline in the late 80's / early 90's. He's stayed in radio and made a very good name for himself. He's having a bit of a busman's holiday, doing some shows over the bank holiday weekend for Radio Caroline, broadcasting live from Tilbury Dock. You can read all about Caroline and their campaign for a licence here.

Well, I have held back this photo for a long time, uncertain of the best time to publish it online; it shows me on the aft deck of the Ross Revenge in the Summer of 1990. As you will see I am somewhat slimmer and hairier than now! The photo was taken by a crew member of a visiting supply ship one sunny afternoon. I was presenting the overnight album rock show to an audience in the UK and Western Europe. More of that below.

Here is a link to a rather large MP3 file you can download. It features a rather muffled recording of yours truly presenting a programme on Radio Caroline back in May 1990. I was most definitely the "new boy" at the time - I sound nervous, and about 12 years old - very small and squeaky! Let me know what you think - and do bear in mind it was recorded onto cassette tape from an AM radio broadcast, so the quality  is not that great.

Download the programme here.

The photo above shows the Air Ambulance, which landed on the site of the demolished petrol garage in Fraser Road, close to the old Nordenfeldt site. The shot above was taken from Alford Road towards Fraser Road, through the ornamental garden in between. There had just been a serious car crash. Apparently a number of casualties were treated at the scene, and two people were airlifted to hospital. The road was closed for some time, a fact that was reported on BBC Radio 2 at the time. For some strange reason neither the News Shopper or the Bexley Times picked up on the story.

Belvedere Splash Park has now opened for the Spring / Summer season. It is the largest free access public wet play area in the U.K. Children can paddle in a lagoon surrounding a desert island and play on a huge safety surfaced "beach" equipped with water sprinklers, showers, bubble jets and sprays. It is an ideal place to take children on a hot day, though it can get very busy during the weekend and school holidays if the weather is warm.

Mentioning all things aerial, I am not alone in having seen the Goodyear Airship over Erith on a number of recent occasions. I believe it is performing some rehearsal runs prior to neat years' Olympic Games in East London. It is not to be confused with the Stella Zeppelin, which regularly traversed local skies back in July and August 2008 - you can see more about that particular story by clicking here.

When mentioning all things retro, frequent mention is made of  people no longer seeing white dog poo. The origin of this was that in years gone by, cheap dog food was adulterated with large amounts of calcium carbonate, which acted to bulk out the meat. When the food was subsequently vacated, weathering would cause the organic material to disappear, leaving whitish chalk deposits. Nowadays dog food is no longer made in such a manner - hence the disappearance of the aforementioned white dog poo. More to the point - have you noticed that it is very rare to ever see a rusty car on the road? When I was small, almost every other car that passed would have signs of corrosion on the wheel arches or general bodywork. Again this is no longer the case - the standard of corrosion protection, along with more stringent MOT standards have seen paid to this.

Over the last week, the Maggot Sandwich has been read by a number of unexpected visitors. I have had hits from people resident in countries including Latvia, Moldova, and most surprisingly of all, Iran. Quite what Iranian readers would find of interest on a rambling blog, loosely based on the goings on in an otherwise unremarkable South East London suburb is somewhat beyond me; they are of course more than welcome, but I would have thought that they would be better employed reading some tof the online journals of the various members of the pro democracy movement. Whatever, international visitors are welcome to drop in to read my semi literate jottings. The Maggot Sandwich has now been viewed by just over 28,000 unique individuals.

Lastly, this weeks' video features a new version of a track by Welling's own Kate Bush. The video features a host of prestigious British actors, and true to much of Kates' other work, is simultaneously creepy and baffling, but very worth while watching. Comments below, as always.


  1. "The photo below was taken by Ian on his iPhone - I have tarted it up a bit, as the original was suffering quite badly from ambient glare. It is quite an arty still - life composition, which quite neatly sums up the 2011 Bexley Beer Festival"
    One word Mr.P'...Hipsamatic!
    Hipstamatic is a digital photography application for the Apple iPhone. It uses the iPhone's camera to allow the user to shoot square photographs, to which it applies a number of software filters in order to make the images look as though they were taken with an antique film camera. The user can choose among a number of effects which are presented in the application as "lenses", "films" and "flashes". Several of these are included with the application, while others need to be purchased separately.

    Hipstamatic is part of a "retro" trend in photography, which has seen a rise in the popularity of cheap and technically obsolete analog cameras (such as Lomography and Polaroid instant cameras), as well as software filters and smartphone software that emulate such cameras. Other "vintage" photography applications include CameraBag and Instagram. Like Hipstamatic, they often include social networking features to facilitate the exchange of photos via the internet.[1][2]"
    Cleaning it up on Apature is akin to buying Stone Wash Denim jeans and ironing a nice smart crease in 'em!!!

  2. The download link seems to have stopped working.

    How about putting it on ?