Monday, 25 February 2013


To get  to work I usually have to leave the sunny climes of Nunhead and travel to Epsom.  Sometimes I drive, but more often I use the train.  And if that is what I have to do, there is  only one service for choice. 

Because there is only one direct train from London Bridge, through Peckham, to Epsom each day.  I don't know why; perhaps some requirement written into the original laws privatising our railways.  But whatever the reason, if I don't want to change at Sutton or Wimbledon - and in all likelihood Tulse Hill as well - I have to get the 8:38 from Peckham Rye.

Except that I don't, quite.  Or rather that is the train I get, but I board it at East Dulwich, at 8:41.  Which means I get the chance to grab a Danish pastry and double expresso from the very worthy Blackbird bakery. And if I'm early I can sit inside by the coal fire and begin the paper before heading for the train.

Being a commuter, of course, I always try to sit in the same place each day.  Part of the routine. And I always get a seat because I'm heading out of London, against the flow of traffic. 

So that is where you will often find me - second coach from the back, in the middle section.  Across the gangway from the seats dedicated to those unable to stand. 

It's a strange thing, tho' - those seats are often occupied by pasty white, overweight, hairy programmers on the way to Sutton, discussing software design.  So much so that when they aren't there I almost feel the urge sit there myself just to fill the vacancy..

Saturday, 23 February 2013

On Roobarb and Custard

A few days ago we were saddened to hear of the death of the actor Richard Briers.  But we were pleased at least that amongst the endless discussions of The Good Life, and fewer mentions of his impressive later stage career, it was also recalled that he was the voice of the marvellous, magisterial Roobarb (and Custard).

And then yesterday the death of Bob Godfrey at the age of 91, the creator of R&C, was announced.  I also recall Great (his Oscar-winning film of the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel) and Karma Sutra Rides Again, as well as numerous shorts.  His style was unmistakeable..

But Roobarb and Custard was his masterwork

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Yesterday's Armageddon

I remember being told once that in the '80s nuclear submarine commanders were instructed that should the Jimmy Young show ever go off the air, it was a sign that nuclear war had started, London had been hit, and they were to open their sealed orders. Armageddon was at hand.

So yesterdaay morning, as I slowly surfaced from a night's sleep, I could hear Evan Davies voice but something was wrong.  It wasn't the Today programme I was listening to but a repeat of The Bottom Line.

There was no Today programme.

And this came only a few days after a fireball had been filmed streaking across the Russian sky.  How did we know it was a meteor and not an alien spaceship?  No crater has yet been found.

Let me repeat:  There was no Today programme.

At 8:00, to my relief, we were told it was because of an NUJ strike. 

And today, Today was back, with Evan.  So that's all right then.

But he and Jim Naughtie didn't sound quite like they normally do, and this nasty thought won't leave my mind:  When the aliens do invade, and start replacing us with copies, who will the pod people target first?

I'm sure it's nothing. Honest.

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Best joke I heard last week, from the Old Nun's Head:-

Q: "What will they call the Pope when he's retired?"

A: "Ex-Benedict"

Saturday, 16 February 2013

That's Meteorite

BBC Reports on the Russian meteor

Quite amazing.

Worship Street

I had a meeting on Worship Street this week, and I realised it ran directly between two working-class poets we have mentioned before here on TANH.  To the West, the street ends at Bunhill Fields, where the poet William Blake is buried.  I realise we have posted a lot about Blake over the years, so let's move to the East end.

Where Worship Street meets Norton Folgate, celebrated by Madness and now a Radio 4 play.  And just over the road is Folgate Street, mentioned before, named afterr the Water Poet, John Taylor.

Of course, I'm not claiming that Taylor was as great a poet as Blake, but it is nice to thing of them being joined by this otherwise dull city street.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Developing the Centre of Nunhead? Not like this!

So after yesterday's parents evening, while waiting for chips, we called in on the consultation about Nunhead Green and the proposed new developments.

This was quite unpleasant.  It didn't feel like a consultaion, really. 

The people there were too keen on the arguments for their proposals, and did not seem to really listen to the concerns of local people.  Whenever we asked a detailed question (eg what are you proposing for the pavement there, what will the slope be like for pedestrians in wheelchairs?  What trees did you mean to grow, and why? (I admit TANH asked a lot about trees; but it is our remit)?  Why has so little grass been retained?  Why so much space for cars, which are neither needed nor wanted?  How does this help meet green targets?  What about the option of turning this into an extension of the Green - can we see that proposal please? ).  Also: if we have to build houses, what will be the typical sale price for the dwellings and how can we halve it?),  they were defensive and unhelpful.  Overall not very good at all.

There should have been independents consulting, not the architects.  In fact I do not believe it helped having the architect there at all.  Pompous and patronising.

A simple example: I asked about the access for the cars and how they would ensure - across the whole pavement - that pedestrians, buggys, wheelchair users would not be inconvenienced.  So no slopes in the pavement.  They failed to answer the question and started talking about the quality of the stone work.  I said that was not helpfull, and actually the pavement should have precedence over the cars (as in National guidance).  They should not put their 'fancy' stonework over the pavement.  They admitted after lots of pressure they hadn't thought about it - and recorded nothing of the dialogue.  So second rate, I thought.

They should have been noting down comments on the spot, not expecting written submissions from people who were pressed for time. 

Overall,  poor I thought in terms of process.

I loathed parts of the architectural solution (like the roof of the hall and the tall chimneys, the excessive car parking (oh, I appear to have mentioned that already)).  They didn't seem to listen.

Another element missing was any discussion of the traffic and disruption that will be caused by building all that stuff.  What are the access requirements, how many lorries per day and for how long?  What are the implications for traffic, polution, pedestrians, etc?

On the plus side, they do seem to have protected a few of the trees - the Chinese Willow and sycamores.  But not all of them.

Sigh. As is clear, I've written this in a rush, and only voiced half my concerns, and the ones I have described I could have explained much better.  Still, I hope the point has been got across. 

Where are the press when you need them?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Movie Mail

I've become something of a fan of Movie Mail
The are an olnline store for DVDs, Blu-Ray and film generally. 

They cover a wide range, not just the latest Hollywood stuff but older films and International film also. 

They send me a nice newsletter.

And they aren't Amazon.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Radio 4 Liberty

Oh, and there was a marvellous radio play based on The Liberty of Norton Folgate on Radio 4 yesterday.  Catch it while you can!

Araucaria on Newsnight

So John Graham (Araucaria) was on Newsnight last week - still currently available...

Cryptic Bowie

Nice Paul crossword midweek on a David Bowie theme...
See the Fifteensquared entry for more...