Sunday, November 06, 2011

BATT Woman.

The Cross Keys pub, which still remains boarded up and abandoned, months after it was withdrawn from sale on the day of its' auction. Mystery still surrounds exactly what happened to the sale of the place. If it does not get sold to a new owner and refurbished soon, I have real fears for the future of the historic building.

Funding has now been secured, so that the dreadful hellhole that is the Larner Road Estate can be demolished and rebuilt into something rather more civilised. A total of £128 million has been allocated for the demolition of the notorious tower blocks, and the creation of a new, low rise and more resident friendly housing estate. The project will take a total of five years to complete, and will kick off in 2013. You can read more about it by clicking here. The place was built in 1964, and in my opinion should have been demolished in 1965 - a view no doubt shared by many in the area.

As we are coming up to Remembrance Day 2011, one thing that has been darkening the commemorations is the recent spate of thefts of bronze and brass panels from war memorials. We have had a number of local incidents, including the theft from the memorial in Bexleyheath Broadway a while ago. In my opinion, the law in respect of scrap dealers needs to be changed; there should be no cash transactions, account only business, and credits to named bank accounts only - the scrap dealers are currently as guilty as the scumbags that steal the metal in the first place. Make them traceable and accountable - this will go a long way to preventing the crimes.

I don't know if you have seen the current PC World TV commercial where Darth Vader visits a store to encourage the staff (a somewhat morally dubious concept from the outset). It was filmed at the Lakeside shop. Vader is making personal appearances at PC World shops around the country over the next few weeks. I get the feeling that the marketing company behind the campaign don't really understand the Star Wars universe. Would you really want your company to be closely associated with the Galactic Empire, a thinly disguised bunch of space Nazis? I thought not.

The Wonder Woman inspired cardboard cut - out that had been displayed on the outside of one of the BATT warehouses in Fraser Road has finally succumbed to the elements; it was in place for many years, and had become a bit of a local land mark. Local resident Steve Thoroughgood photographed it a while back, and you can see his work by clicking here. I hope that BATT replace it with something equally quirky and humorous in the near future.

Following my whinge last week, concerning the Bexley Chronicle stealing my photographs, I wrote the following complaint to the editor of the paper - the text is below:

Dear Sir / Madam,

On page five of the November 2011 issue of the Erith and Thamesmead edition of the Bexley Chronicle, there is an article about the recent Alexander Selkirk commemoration day at Erith. The article contains seven photographs where the copyright is owned by myself,  and have been used without compliance with their licence. The photographs were published on the Flickr website under a legally enforceable Creative Commons licence. The terms and conditions of this licence have not been met. This is an offence under the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

A capture of the page in question is attached for your information. Your prompt response is requested to ensure that this matter does not require escalation to my legal counsel.

At the time of writing this, I have yet to receive a response. I will not drop the matter - more as it happens...

Even though were are in straightened financial times right now, there seems to be a new fad for baby vegetables in the supermarkets. I can just about see the point in baby sweetcorn (great in stir fries and curries), but draw the line at something I saw in Morrison's last week. Baby cabbage anyone? It looked like a Brussels Sprout on steroids. What would make someone want a cabbage the size of a tennis ball totally escapes me. Why not just leave it in the ground for a few weeks longer, get a full sized one with more taste? It is not like you could eat a baby cabbage like an apple - it would still need to be boiled or steamed - and it would need to be shredded too - you would lose the "specialness" of the small size anyway. Madness.

Do give the video below a watch - apologies for the somewhat dubious quality. It is taken from a Bollywood thriller, and will make you laugh for all of the wrong reasons. The action involved the hero chasing the bad guy, in a sequence where literally everything blows up, at least once. It would seem that even the explosions have explosions - the kind of thing I would have expected Jeremy Clarkson to have directed. I see that the law of conservation of momentum has been repealed for the duration of the clip - have a watch and let me know what you think.

On the complete opposite end of the quality spectrum, do check out this full HD short film by independent director and cinematographer Vincent Laforet. The cinematography and production values are amazing - and the story is pretty clever too. "Mobius" is eleven and a half minutes of pure movie magic. I would recommend enlarging the embedded clip to full screen to appreciate the visual quality - and to give your internet connection a bit of a work - out.

You can read a fascinating article about a journalist who had her GMail account hacked, and what happened afterwards by clicking here. It makes sobering and informative reading.

Have you seen the current TV advert for Panasonic televisions, featuring a gymnast going through a routine on top of a giant TV set? The gymnast in question is a young lady called Sophie Brundish - one of Britain's top hopes in the forthcoming Olympic Games. She trains and is based at the Europa Gym Centre in Fraser Road, Erith.  You can see the advert on YouTube by clicking here.

The photo below shows Pewty Acres, and my home office where every week I nail together the Maggot Sandwich; unfortunately you cannot see all of the room in the shot; the lens I was using just was not wide angle enough. Further to the right of the photo is my Amateur Radio gear, my home CCTV surveillance system, and my Mastermind style chair. I spend a great deal of time in this room. Incidentally, the two yellow and grey boxes in the foreground of the picture are a brace of Watson 30 Amp regulated DC power supplies. The room as a whole has 24 surge protected power sockets that feed from the underside of the 3 metre long custom made workbench. The red unit on top of the Edirol MA15-D monitor speaker to the left of the iMac is a Uni-T UT70D professional digital multimeter - a lovely bit of kit that has proved very useful.

I notice that the News Shopper are running a story that the region may be getting a new airport in a few years' time. You can read all about the story here. This coincidentally dovetails in quite nicely with the research into local history that I have recently been doing. Did you know that way back in 1910, there were firm plans to construct an airport on the land between Joyce Green and the Dartford Salt Marshes? The land was purchased by Vickers Son and Maxim (which later became Vickers Ltd). The primary purpose of the airport was to be a place where Vickers could test their prototype aeroplane designs. they had recently created the (then) revolutionary Vickers R.E.P monoplane which was designed and constructed at their large engineering works in Fraser Road, Erith. The planes' designer was French aviation pioneer, Robert Esnault - Pelterie.  For various planning and economic reasons the airport project became delayed, and by 1914, World War 1 had started, and the whole thing was abandoned. If it had not been for this, Dartford could have been what is now Heathrow. Personally I think we got away lightly, but it would have brought a hell of a lot of business to the local area.

The River Thames features heavily in the history of Erith. During the 19th Century, the Thames between Erith and Woolwich was the scene of two particularly notable disasters.  The first was the gunpowder explosion, which happened on the 1st August 1864. At about seven o'clock in the morning, two barges were being loaded with black powder from one of the magazines on Erith Marshes, when one barge exploded, causing the second to detonate a moment later, which caused the entire magazine to blow up. The explosion was heard all around London, with reports from as far as fifty miles away. A tall column of black smoke rose above the marshes and hung in the air for several minutes according to eye witnesses. No trace of the barges was ever found, but bricks and timber from the magazine building. and nearby housing were scattered over a wide area. Considerable blast damage was caused all around Erith and Belvedere, with windows broken up to six miles away. Ten people were killed (their bodies were stored in the Belvedere Hotel, which was used as a temporary morgue) and hundreds injured. The cause of the explosion was never discovered.

The second disaster was also unexplained. On September 3rd, 1878 the pleasure steamer "Princess Alice" was returning from Gravesend to its' home port of Woolwich, when it collided with the iron cargo steamer "Bywell Castle". Out of 800 passengers on the "Princess Alice", nearly 700 were drowned, and for several days bodies were being washed up along the banks of the Thames. Some of the dead who were "hurried into eternity" (the rather flowery words of a local journalist) were buried in the cemetery of St. John the Baptist in West Street. The "Bywell Castle" survived the collision, but was lost in mysterious circumstances. In 1883 she disappeared on a journey between Gibraltar and England, and was presumed lost with all hands.

The Bexley Neighbourhood Watch scheme are looking for new members. Click here for the Erith based network. Otherwise, if you would like to become involved, see the graphic below.

A real guilty pleasure of mine (and I know of others too) is the TV show "Man Versus Food". In the programme, TV presenter Adam Richman travels around America, eating meals in independent cafes, restaurants and fast food joints. He shows how various meals are prepared and talks to the staff. The climax of each episode is the "Food Challenge" - Richman attempts the restaurants challenge - to eat an unusually huge portion of a dish, or to eat something extraordinarily spicy. These challenges often have a time limit. It sounds gross, but Adam Richman is such a likeable host, you can forgive him a lot. This clip shows Adam in an Indian Restaurant in New York (that models itself closely on a typical British curry house). He's eating a tandoori chicken Phall. Most Americans are a lot less familiar with Indian food that the typical Brit, so he goes to some lengths to explain what a Phall is. Incidentally, I have eaten a Phall on a couple of occasions. To be honest the challenge is more about the next morning, and having to explain to any onlookers why you are taking a kilo of ice cubes and a fire extinguisher into the loo...

You are no doubt viewing the Maggot Sandwich using a web browser such as Firefox, Opera or Chrome (goodness forbid that you should even consider using the abomination that is Internet Exploder). Going back a few years now, the browser of choice tended to be Netscape Navigator. Whilst that suite of programs is now long dead and gone, the people behind Firefox have rewritten Netscape into a totally new package of Web browser, Email client, Newsgroup reader and Web page designer, now renamed SeaMonkey - the package is now free and open source; available for Windows, OS X, Linux and the Solaris operating systems. You can download the SeaMonkey suite free by clicking here.

You may or may not be aware that the hugely successful BBC TV show "Top Gear" is licenced for production in a lot of different countries. The format stays pretty much the same, but the presenters, language and cars featured differ depending on the part of the world. Below you can see the pilot episode of the American version - which, it has to be said is not a patch on the British original. The presenters don't have the personal chemistry - and the humour is almost totally lacking. Nevertheless it is a worthwhile watch.  

1 comment:

  1. Bloody cheek of the Bexley Chronicle ripping off material and breaking the CCL! It's not as if you're even asking them to pay anything - and damn rude of them not to promptly reply when hauled up for it. Makes one wonder how widespread the practice is nu yje likes of such shoddy and disrespectful publishers, and how often they get away with it either because the owners of the rights remain unaware it's occurred, or because they lack the will or confidence to pursue it. They've made a mistake this time though, taking on 'Captain Tweed' - give 'em hell Sir!