Sunday, May 14, 2023


As we approach the second anniversary of the erection of the scaffolding surrounding Erith Library, the Energie Fitness Gym and the apartments above them, some action finally seems to be happening. Someone remarked to me a while ago that the work to remove and replace the potentially hazardous cladding on the landmark building has actually taken longer than it did to construct it in the first place. It has been said that the original cladding fitted to the structure was of a similar type to that which contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire back in June 2017. Work has been incredibly slow - something commented on by a number of locals. It would seem that the replacement cladding has now been delivered to the site, as can be seen in the photos above - click on either for a larger view. Just how long the work will take is unclear. I had been told that it was originally supposed to have been completed by Christmas - to which I asked "in which year?" If you have any information regarding this, please email me at

There has been some controversy about an upcoming event which was scheduled to take place on the 3rd of June in Crayford - the official announcement regarding the situation reads as follows:- "CLUB STATEMENT IN RESPECT OF THE FAMILY FUN DAY ADVERTISED TO TAKE PLACE AT CRAYFORD ARROWS SPORTS CLUB ON 3 JUNE 2023. Some weeks ago Crayford Arrows Sports Club was approached by an independent company branded as Angells Amusements Ltd suggesting the use of our ground to stage a family fun day in support of our current fundraising projects. The hire fee to be based on proceeds generated by the fun day activities. All aspects of the Family Fun day, in their entirety, were to be organised by Angells Amusements Ltd. On Tuesday 9 May Crayford Arrows’ attention was drawn to reports of questionable trading practices used by Angells Amusements Ltd regarding deposits and other payments requested by them of potential stallholders and small traders and also in connection with their children’s parties activities. After investigating these reports Crayford Arrows Sports Club confirm that permission for Angells Amusements Ltd to stage any activity at our club was withdrawn with immediate effect. There will not be a Family Fun day hosted by the independent company Angells Amusements Ltd at Crayford Arrows Sports Club on Saturday, 3 June 2023. In support of stallholders and other activity suppliers who have been adversely affected by the distasteful and unacceptable methods employed by Angells Amusements Ltd, we would like to invite you to join us at our own Crayford Arrows organised events in the future. For further information of these please contact our Events Coordinator, Lizzie Crawford, on 07810 608369. Paul Oliver (Chairman) and David Case (Secretary) on behalf of Crayford Arrows Sports Club".

A reminder that next Friday there will be a memorial vigil marking the 20th anniversary of the hit and run killing of 12 year old schoolgirl Gemma Rolfe. Her killer has never been brought to justice. I will be attending the event. Location details: - Road: Junction of Slade Green Road and Canada Road. Coordinates: 51.475133, 0.195259. Post Code: DA8 2JW. What3Words: ///trying.poppy.runner. Time: 18:50-19:30 Official Facebook event page:

Last week I was waiting for a bus in Erith town centre, whilst I waited, I noticed a group of six boys in school uniform, who must have been no more than thirteen or fourteen years old. Three of the group were smoking what ware quite obviously cannabis joints. The fact that they were doing so in a blatant and obvious way in a public place shocked me. They were treating it like it was a normal thing to do - not something that could lead to a criminal conviction - and possible long - term health effects. Cannabis-related psychosis is a mental health condition that can develop after using cannabis. It is characterised by a loss of touch with reality, and can include symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganised thinking. Cannabis-related psychosis is a serious condition, and it is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Young men who showed signs of cannabis addiction had an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, a new study warned. Researchers, including those from the US National Institutes of Health, analysed health records data spanning decades and representing more than six million people in Denmark to estimate the fraction of schizophrenia cases that could be attributed to cannabis use disorder. Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves, with patients seeming to have lost touch with reality, making everyday activities almost impossible to complete in some cases. People with cannabis use disorder are unable to stop using the drug despite its negative consequences in their lives, which also makes everyday activities difficult. The new study, published in Psychological Medicine, provides strong evidence of a link between cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia among men and women, with a much stronger association among young men. Scientists estimate that as many as a third of cases of schizophrenia among men aged 21-30 might have been prevented by averting cannabis use disorder. “The entanglement of substance use disorders and mental illnesses is a major public health issue, requiring urgent action and support for people who need it,” study coauthor Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the NIH, said. “As access to potent cannabis products continues to expand, it is crucial that we also expand prevention, screening, and treatment for people who may experience mental illnesses associated with cannabis use,” Dr Volkow said. In the research, scientists investigated how the associations between cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia varied by different sex and age groups, and how these differences changed over time. They sought to estimate the proportion of all schizophrenia cases that may be attributed to cannabis use disorder specifically, across sex and age groups. The study found that about 15 per cent of cases of schizophrenia among men aged 16-49 may have been avoided in 2021 by preventing cannabis use disorder. But for young men aged 21-30, researchers estimated that the proportion of preventable cases of schizophrenia related to cannabis use disorder may be as high as 30 per cent. Scientists also warn that the proportion of new schizophrenia cases that may be attributed to cannabis use disorder has consistently increased over the past five decades. This increase they say is likely linked to the higher potency of cannabis and increasing prevalence of diagnosed cannabis use disorder over time. “This study adds to our growing understanding that cannabis use is not harmless, and that risks are not fixed at one point in time,” Carsten Hjorthoj, lead author of the study from the University of Copenhagen said. “Increases in the legalisation of cannabis over the past few decades have made it one of the most frequently used psychoactive substances in the world, while also decreasing the public’s perception of its harm,” Dr Hjorthoj said. Researchers call for further studies to examine the mechanisms underlying the higher vulnerability of young men to the effects of cannabis on schizophrenia. Comments to me at

The highly influential iMac range of computers from Apple had their twenty fifth birthday this week. The original - and some way the most revolutionary - version of the computer was launched in May 1998. You can see a photo of the "mark one" version above - click on the photo for a larger view. The original iMac was a product full of firsts. It was Apple’s first computer to be built for the internet era (that is where the i comes from.) It was the first to drop all legacy I/O such as serial and parallel ports in favour of the more modern USB standard. It was the first to show that computers could be cool. To design the iMac, Apple pushed its latent industrial design team, a group that had been under served by previous company leaders. While the iMac wasn’t the first Apple product to use translucent plastic, it was decidedly more “Un-PC,” without a spot of beige to be found. At the time, all other desktop computers were inevitably beige in colour - whilst other manufacturers were aware that other colours were available, the beige option was the cheapest to produce, as being beige at the outset tended to hide the case discolouration over time due to the Bromine compounds introduced into the ABS plastic to act as a fire retardant. I digress; The iMac did not come with a bland beige case; quite the opposite. Then-Vice President of Industrial Design, Briton Sir Jony Ive asked “What computer would The Jetsons have had?” when designing the original iMac. Retro-futurism played a quietly important role in the computer’s appeal to customers, which was reminiscent of both the aesthetic used in the animated cartoon series and even vintage computer terminals. The iMac’s vibrant hues also embodied the spirit of 1960s Olivetti typewriters, which were notable for their use of colour in a market dominated by dull, corporate designs.

The advert above was first published back in 1903. It does rather infer that other local bakers were not hygienic - I am not sure if such an advert would be permitted nowadays. Still, it does show that even 120 years ago, a local food producer was very conscious about cleanliness. Something that some local outlets today seem to have forgotten.

The local area has been home to many notable musicians, including but not limited to Kate Bush, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, whom I featured last week. There is another group, who by all reasonable standards ought to be mentioned alongside this list, the biggest group you probably have not heard of. The band were revered by David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, and they were the first people to hear Sergeant Pepper when the Beatles recorded next door to them at Abbey Road. Guest stars for their final gig included Van Morrison, David Gilmour and Bill Nighy. The band were called The Pretty Things; in many ways The Pretty Things were an offshoot of the original lineup of The Rolling Stones, as members of both bands met at Sidcup Art College. Members of The Pretty Things came from Dartford, Sidcup and Slade Green; whilst they were initially described as a free form rhythm and blues band, they were later described as the very first Punk band. The Pretty Things were the also-rans of the British Invasion, a band that never got its due. Despite this lack of recognition, they were never quite ignored, cultivating a passionate following that stuck with them through the decades. Founded by an ex-Rolling Stone, The Pretty Things were so raucous and rebellious that they made the Stones seem sedate by comparison. Their hair was longer, their behaviour more outrageous, and their R and B rocked without a hint of restraint. But they were not to share the Stones' success, and after two classic albums they turned their backs on the Blues, to become pioneers of British Psychedelia and record the first “Rock Opera.” Dartford lad Dick Taylor took his first steps towards becoming a Pretty Thing when he and schoolmate Mick (then Mike) Jagger teamed up with Sidcup Art College student Keith Richards to explore their mutual love of R and B. Along with fellow enthusiasts Bob Beckwith and Alan Etherington, they formed a band that they named Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys , possibly after the DC comic characters created by Batman writer Bill Finger, or perhaps in reference to Sonny Boy Williamson II, Rice Miller, who in his early days toured the Delta under the name ‘Little Boy Blue.' While the Blue Boys were rehearsing in Dick's front room, Brian Jones, then calling himself “Elmo Lewis” and playing slide guitar in the style of Elmore James, had paired up with mouth-organist Paul Pond, who later adopted Brian's surname to become Paul Jones, and sing for the group Manfred Mann. When Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated started their new London residency in March 1962 they attracted Blues devotees from far and wide, so it was no surprise that there should be Blue Boys in the audience when “Elmo and Paul” were bashing out their Blues at the Ealing Club. When Brian decided to put a band together, though Paul couldn't be persuaded to join, Keith Mick and Dick all passed the audition. Despite these changes in style, they rarely racked up hits on either side of the Atlantic. In the United States, they didn't chart until 1975, a full decade after they released their rough-and-tumble debut. Back then, the Pretty Things seemed like rivals to the Rolling Stones and that was no great leap: guitarist Dick Taylor played bass in the first incarnation of the Stones, not long before he teamed up with Phil May to form the Pretty Things in 1963. Taking their name from a Bo Diddley song, the Pretty Things were intentionally ugly: Their sound was brutish, their hair longer than any of their contemporaries, their look unkempt. This nastiness was evident on their first pair of singles, "Rosalyn" and "Don't Bring Me Down," two 45s that charted in 1964 whose success helped to get their eponymous debut into the U.K. Top Ten a year later, but that turned out to be the extent of their commercial success. For reasons best known to the band's management, The Pretty Things never toured the U.S.A. Their Don't Bring Me Down was banned there, but a garage band managed to have a regional hit with the song in Florida. And though manager Bryan Morrison confidently told Record Mirror 'It now looks fairly certain that they will visit the States early in the New Year,” that never came to pass. Certainly they had more than enough work to keep them busy, though they never failed to cause rifts and ructions wherever they went. At home, their road manager was fined £25 for pulling a shotgun when the lads were menaced by local thugs at a gig in Trowbridge. Phil May was cut and bruised when he was pulled off stage by five girls in High Wycombe, and they were kicked out of their rented flat in Belgravia because of neighbours' complaints. On their first visit to Holland, where they had a large and dedicated following, there were uncontrollable riots during their appearance at the 1965 Blokker Festival, which was being shown on Dutch TV, and the broadcast was terminated when outraged citizens rang the station to complain. Their notoriety continued; When the band embarked on a tour of New Zealand, Drummer Tony Prince's relations with the rest of the group became increasingly strained by his drunken antics, which included carrying a dead crayfish around for days, and breaking into the dressing room with an axe after they'd locked him out. The press took the opportunity to savage them, claiming the band drank whisky at the New Plymouth Opera House, broke chairs, lit fires backstage, abused officials, and ruined heartthrob Eden Kane's stage act. The New Plymouth Daily News defended the band, saying “theirs was R and B at its raving best. Electric excitement, and an original stage style, plus good R and B drumming.” But too much damage had already been done, and when Prince was thrown off their flight home for disorderly behaviour, his days as a Pretty Thing were numbered. Rather than bring stability to the band, he'd proved himself to be the most unstable of them all. As May later put it, "we were sort of novice lunatics, but suddenly they hand us, like, the high priest of lunacy." As a result, the band received a lifetime ban from New Zealand. The Pretty Things may not have shown up on the charts, but their cult proved to be influential: it's been said Pete Townshend was influenced by The Pretty Things pioneering rock opera "S.F. Sorrow" to write Tommy for the Who, and David Bowie covered both "Rosalyn" and "Don't Bring Me Down" for his 1973 album Pin Ups. Critics liked them too, but that affirmation didn't sell records. Nevertheless, the Pretty Things were survivors, soldiering on through the '70s, turning into a harder, heavier outfit that was rewarded with marginal U.S. success -- 1974's Silk Torpedo and 1976's Savage Eye made the lower reaches of the Billboard chart - cutting a credible new wave album at the dawn of the '80s. The Pretty Things would split not long afterwards but their cult remained so strong that they became a semi-active concern at the beginning of the new millennium, as they would occasional reunite for tours and recordings. Founder member Phil May died suddenly in May of 2020. The Pretty Things final album  ‘Bare As Bone, Bright As Blood' was released in September 2020, and the band are now no more. 

The end video this week is of the Pretty Things playing live in a TV studio. They are playing their track - "Midnight To Six Man" from back in 1966. Comments and feedback can be sent to me by email to the usual address -

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