New London ‘Death Camp’ will be ready soon

Reblogging this from my other political blog because I think it is important for more people to see it.

REDFLAGFLYING

Much has been made of the fact that the government is rushing to convert an existing conference and entertainment venue into a new ‘Hospital’. They are working hard in East London’s Excel Centre to create two ‘wards’ that will each accommodate 2,000 people. They have even given it a nice name, ‘The Nightingale Hospital’.

Does that sound good to you? Well it doesn’t to me.

I would like to know how they expect to treat 4,000 people lined up together in a massive space that is one kilometre long. How will they keep them apart at a safe distance? Will there be respirators for those needing life support? (Unlikely) Where will they find the doctors and nursing staff to treat them? (Answer, The Military)

So what we have here is a place where those who are expected to die are going to be sent to, to do just that. In…

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Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Second Homers

I heard a short report on the local news the other day, and then forgot about it. But I woke up this morning thinking about it seriously.

Norfolk is a county with a large coastline. Not that long ago, coastal housing here was some of the cheapest available in the southern half of Britain. That attracted well-off buyers from London and its suburbs. Less than a three-hour drive from the capital, and you get countryside, huge sandy beaches, and the chance of sea views from your back garden. So they came and bought property.

Lots of it.

But they didn’t live here. They used it at weekends, to get away from the city, or sent the family up here for the long school holidays. It was quaint. It had small shops, old buildings, traditional seaside towns, and quiet roads. Once it became widely known, house prices started to increase out of all proportion to local income and availability. By 2010, a house on the North Norfolk coast cost almost as much as one in North London.

And a beach hut fetched the same price as a small house in Beetley.

(The same applies to Suffolk by the way, which is even closer to london)

The inevitable happened, and local people could no longer afford to buy homes in the most desirable areas. They couldn’t rent them either, as the second-homers could charge a couple of thousand pounds a week to let them out when they didn’t need to use them.

Then those local shops started to cater for their new rich clientele. They began to stock Pate de Fois Gras, Artisan breads, Parma ham, fresh Parmesan, and designer fabrics to decorate their second homes in style. Before long, local people could no longer buy what they needed in the villages they had spent their lives in, and were having to travel into the central Norfolk market towns to get their weekly shop.

The pubs that they enjoyed a beer and a pie in started to change into classy bistros, and gastropubs. They had wine lists as extensive as any top London eatery, and sold exclusive bottled water at £3 a bottle. So the locals lost their social life too. Then the local economy started to depend on the whims and patronage of these part-time newcomers.

I know. Times change. Things change. Nothing stays the same. Get on with it.

Soak it up. Move on.

But as if that wasn’t bad enough for the impoverished counties in the East of England, along came Covid-19. The second homers knew what to do.

Leave London, and flock to their coastal hideaways, bringing the virus with them. In less than ten days, cases of reported infection in the whole of Norfolk have gone from just one, to twenty-five, with two people dying of the virus already. It is estimated that the numbers infected will be reported as more than fifty by the end of the month, with a corresponding death rate.

But it could be more.

However, on the bright side, the second homers and their families are getting some fresh air, as they await the delivery of luxury groceries.

Ten things Londoners never do

Wonderful advice from a London Black Cab (official taxi) driver. If you are going to that city, read this first!

CabbieBlog

As we start the season of ‘budget tourism’ here are some hints of how not to look like you’re a visitor to London. Well, apart from that old chestnut of what side to stand when travelling on an escalator.

Converse with a cabbie

If you decide to take a ride in a black cab, don’t ask the driver’s opinion of that precocious Swede Greta Thunberg. At £55,000 the electric cab is near twice the price its predecessor was a few years ago. In an attempt to make London the world’s greenest city, perfectly serviceable cabs are being ‘retired’ and replaced by luxury electric limousines.

Join the queue

That popular tourist hot-spot, the waxwork emporium on the Marylebone Road where thousands queue outside waiting for a chance to take a selfie with Michael Jackson or David Beckham, not with Rolf Harris who curiously is now absent. Those possessed with forward-planning have…

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Rainfall Nostalgia

As I was woken up during the night by yet another downpour, and that rain is still falling as I sit at my computer, I got to thinking about rain.

No surprise there, as anyone who has ever read this blog will tell you, I write a lot about rain. A lot. Having to walk a dog in all weathers, and with outbuildings liable to flood when ground water gets to too high a level, I can assure you that rain matters a great deal to me.

But what about before? Before I retired, and had time to resent the rain spoiling my free time, restricting my movements, and making my daily dog walks miserable.

I didn’t even own an umbrella until 2001.

That was the year I started working for the Metropolitan Police in London, and could no longer drive to work.

I had to either get a bus, or walk for almost thirty minutes to my new place of employment.

That meant being out in the weather dressed quite smartly, and then having to work a long shift with no facility to change wet clothes. I suddenly realised that you could get very wet in just thirty minutes.

I started by buying a weatherproof coat. That offered some protection, but my trousers and shoes still got soaked of course. I wasn’t too bothered about my head, as I had little hair to worry about, and what was there was cropped very short.

But by December of that year, I decided I definitely needed an umbrella, if I wasn’t going to spend the first period of my shift trying to dry out, sitting in damp clothes.

Remembering the old adage ‘You get what you pay for’, the John Lewis department store was my umbrella shop of choice. Not for me one of those over-sized and ubiquitous golfing umbrellas, which are totally impractical on the crowded streets of Central London. No, I had need of a classic ‘brolly’, a Gentleman’s Umbrella. Black of course, with a wooden handle, and a traditional slide and catch. The ‘automatic’ variety did not appeal at all.

I paid extra for one that was ‘guaranteed windproof’. The wind can be fierce along the streets of that city, especially in between high-sided buildings.

It was just what I needed, and kept me dry for the next eleven years, never letting me down, and never once blowing inside out in high winds.

I still have it now, and it is as good as it always was, exactly eighteen years later.

I think I am going to need it today.

The Swinging Sixties: My London

As a teenager in London during the 1960s, I witnessed first hand the explosion of modern fashion and music that became known around the world as The Swinging Sixties. As well as the music scene, fashion for ‘ordinary people’ suddenly arrived. Young designers, boutique shops, and modern clothes that rocked the stuffy attitudes of the time.

Mary Quant led the way, designing the first ever mini-skirt, and exposing the legs of a generation of women for all to see.

Here she is (in the hat) presenting a new collection in the early 1960s.

The women modelling the clothes became celebrities for the first time too. The teenage model Lesley Hornby was known professionally as ‘Twiggy’. She was a Mary Quant model, and her child-like appearance and stick-thin body epitomised the style being promoted. Twiggy is still as popular as ever today, remaining a household name.

Certain areas of London soon became associated with fashion. People flocked to them, just to be seen, or to see others.
King’s Road in Chelsea was a popular Saturday haunt.

In up-market Kensington, the Biba store attracted fashion shoppers too.

But it was Carnaby Street, close to Piccadilly Circus, where the scene exploded. Every shop sold fashionable clothes, many of which were affordable to teenagers working in regular jobs.

Just standing around and posing in your new outfit became popular, and many Londoners would take the trip to the centre just to look at the more fashionable girls strutting their stuff.

The music scene was heavily associated with fashion too. Here a young man dressed in ‘Mod’ clothes poses outside the popular ‘Flamingo’ nightclub, in Soho.
Nobody would have dared to go to one of these clubs without wearing the ‘right’ clothes.

But for me as a teenage boy, it was all about the legs. As skirts got shorter, and women grew their hair longer, spotting glamorous young women on the street was a very pleasant pastime indeed.

Let me know if you are old enough to have some fond memories of the wonderful Swinging Sixties.

Roman London

London was founded as a settlement by the Romans, in 43-50 AD. They first bridged the Thames at the shortest point, where the modern day London Bridge now stands. They named it Londinium.
The camp there was later expanded into a busy port, with ships arriving to supply the armies that were intending to conquer the whole island. When their early town was attacked and burned down by the warrior Queen Boudicca, in 61 AD, they rebuilt it, with a stone wall acting as a defence against the warlike English tribes. At its peak, the new city was home to 45,000 inhabitants, making it the largest in Britain.

If you are interested in seeing what remains of the Roman city, there are some established exhibitions. But just wandering around some areas of The City of London will reveal fascinating remains of Roman buildings still standing; former fortifications, places of worship, and living accommodation.

Close to The Museum of London, you will find the Barbican, a housing and entertainment complex. A road runs down one side of this, aptly named London Wall. In this area, you will find many examples of Roman stone and architecture.


This was once a huge fortified bastion.

Between London Wall and St Paul’s Cathedral, you can see these Roman remains, in Noble Street, EC2.

Close to the Tower of London on Tower Hill, this huge wall remains, showing how far the defences extended close to the River Thames.

In Wallbrook, EC4, you can visit the remains of the Temple of Mithras, now housed in a new exhibition, called The Mithraeum..
This is free to enter, but places on the tour must be booked in advance.
https://www.londonmithraeum.com/visit/#book-your-visit

If you are planning a visit to London to enjoy the sights and history of that city, make sure to take time to see the oldest remaining parts.

Green London: London Parks

Although London is a very crowded city, beset by traffic problems, and streets clogged with pedestrians, it has many parks that offer a break from the hustle and bustle.

The following parks are all completely free to enter and enjoy. They are also mostly surprisingly close to the main tourist attractions, though a few require an easy short journey outside the centre.

Green Park.
Just off Piccadilly, and close to The Ritz Hotel, this smaller London Park is a nice break from the nearby traffic.

St James’s Park.

Close to Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Buckingham Palace, this lovely park is home to London’s famous Pelicans.

Parks St James's

Hyde Park.
This large park has its own river, The Serpentine, and offers many ways to relax close to the traffic-clogged thoroughfares of Park Lane, and Bayswater Road.

Kensington Gardens.
A little further west, and you can find the delightful park, close to Kensington Palace.

Regent’s Park.
A little further North, and also home to London Zoo, this lovely park has a boating lake, and rose gardens too.

Holland Park.
Not far from Kensington High Street, this beautiful London park has a Japanese garden, and a famous Orangery.

Greenwich Park.
Take a train, river-boat, or bus from the centre, to visit this wonderful park in south London.
There is also The Maritime Museum, The Cutty Sark, and The Royal Observatory. A full day out, in a lovely setting.

Crystal Palace Park.
Rarely seen by tourists, a short train or bus journey south will take you to this unusual park.
It is famous for its stone sculptures of dinosaurs.

Victoria Park.
Hackney in east London is not a typical tourist destination.
However, this inner-city district boasts a wonderful park.

Richmond Park.
Take a train west to Richmond, on the banks of the River Thames.
There you will discover this huge Royal Park, famous for its herds of deer.
It is hard to believe that you are still in London.
You can combine this with a trip to nearby Hampton Court Palace.