Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Photos of the Roof

Traffic on Lordship Park

A number of Manor Road and Lordship Park residents met up with Cllr Rosemary Sales and officers to consider parking and speed problems on their roads

What did the Lib Dems achieve in the coalition?

My Adventures in the EU (Referendum 3)

2016-06-02 15.00.51I just came back from Wales.

What struck me on the motorway was the number of European lorries carrying stuff, lots of stuff, up and down. It seems pretty clear that whatever we do, Europe is always going to be our major trading partner.

I have spent my life mostly working for and running SMEs, small and medium enterprises. These are the concerns that are often said to be least in favour of the EU and to be looking forward to less “Red Tape”. How does the EU actually affect us? How has it affected me?

Lets take Joe. Joe is an antique dealer. He sells a van load of antiques to a dealer in France to be delivered to his shop. The bill of sale gives the address. When he gets there the customer says, unload half here and take the rest to my other shop on the other side of town. No problem. But Joe is stopped by the police, the address he’s going to is not on the bill of sale. He is operating a commercial vehicle in France without licence or any documentation. Joe’s van is impounded. OK, this was told to me. I’ve never met Joe. In my opinion Joe may be an urban legend. But lots of stuff like this, perhaps on a smaller scale, used to happen and can’t happen now. Perhaps its no concern of yours if Joe loses his van, or is too frightened to trade into Europe or loses his livelihood or is just poorer, but there are quite a few Joes and Joe may be your customer, your relative or your friend.

In the seventies I worked on rock festivals. Legal wasn’t my field but I knew from colleagues that getting documentation for visiting musicians from the states was a nightmare. I don’t know how bad it is today but it would be a serious setback for entertainers if those rules were applied to Europe.

In the eighties I worked for a company importing chairs from Spain. The chairs had to be bought by container. They had to go to Rotterdam first and used to get stuck there. We needed a customs agent at Felixstowe. Nowadays stuff like that comes in smaller quantities, in a van to the door. We pay by cheque or BACS.

Let’s think about K. They are a company that designs and sells furniture (I spent fifteen years running a furniture shop). K used a factory in Poland to make their furniture. One day the factory decided it could sell the furniture itself. In business you try to protect yourself against this sort of thing but it’s not always possible. K could have given up but they went to Poland, bought their own factory and filled their orders. It was a difficult time but most of their customers (including me) stuck with them and they survived. They mght have been able to do the same without EU rules but probably not quickly enough.

How about Shirley. Shirley’s parents split up and her siblings live in the UK. Shirley is very attached to her family and wants to join them here. She finds an employer and gets a work permit. Her employer knows she is a unique employee, will be an asset to their business and the Home Office agrees. But a junior diplomat in the embassy with a quota to make refuses her a visa. The employer appeals and wins but it’s a year later and Shirley has started a career in her own country. This is a real story, “Shirley” is a real person and is an American citizen. I was the employer. If Shirley’s mother had moved to the EU rather than the USA she would be here with her family now. You may think this is a good thing, that an English person should have that job and in any case we’re full up but I have never filled that position.

Later, one of my colleagues spent three years supervising a team of mental health workers in northern Germany. They would visit them every one or two months and do the rest on Skype. Apart from earning money this gave us some insight into Germany’s social care and mental health system and allowed us to spread ways of working that are not much appreciated in this country. EU rules allowed us to do this.

So I’m fairly positive about the EU but I realise there’s a cost for it. If people and vehicles and goods are to move freely than they have to pass similar driving tests, similar MOTs and the goods have to be of similar quality. And that means usually to the most strict standards applied by any member state. If you buy a German mattress for example, it will be made to British fire safety standards even though Germany never had these standards before and fought hard against having them imposed. If you have free movement of professionals then they have to be trained and regulated to a similar standard, maybe a standard that is alien to your own traditions. And all of that makes life more expensive. This, it seems to me is one of the “legs” on which the Brexit argument stands. And its a real argument. The problem is that if Europe is always going to be our major trading partner then we need a lot of this regulation to sell to them anyway. And other trading partners will and do impose their own requirements – but you have heard all this already if you’re interested in argument.

Next: A motorcyclist looks at the EU

Poems on houses

DSCF8341This is written on a wall in Den Bosch. There is something of a tradition of writing poetry on house walls in Holland. It’s called,


ghe Quetste


Ben ic van binnen,

Doorwont mijn hert so seer,

Van uwer ganschen minnen

Ghe Quest so lanc so meer.

Waer ic mi wend, waer ic mi keer,

Ic en can gherusten dach noch nachte;

Waer ic mi wend, waer ic mi keer,

Ghi sijt alleen in mijn ghedachte.


Google tells me that it is a 14C anonymous poem but its translation left something to be desired.


I’m from inside,

Does my deer so hurt,

Of your goose memories

Ghe Quest so lanc so much more.

Waer ic mi wend, waer ic mi keer,

Ic and can regret either neither nor nor;

Waer ic mi wend, waer ic mi keer,

Ghi sits alone in my ghetachte.


So I had a go basing it mostly on English Homophones and looking up individual words sometimes removing the “h”. “Lanc” was a killer. Perhaps someone can translate in properly but here is my go.


The Journey


I am like ice inside

My heart is sore

From memories of you.

This journey is long and gets more so

Wherever I go, for how many times,

I feel regret, day and night

Wherever I go and for however many times,

I sit alone with my regrets.


Or more freely (with no attempt at the rhyme scheme)


My heart is sore and icy

From memories of you.

This journey, long and longer,

Provides no other view.

The powers of time and distance

Cannot ease our divorce,

Nor novelty, nor friendship

Decrease my self-remorse.





I beat Jeremy Corben.


I beat Jeremy Corben.


Not for the Labour leadership.  I’m from a different party.  Of course,  that didn’t stop Jeremy.


It was around 2000 when the member for Islington North sailed past me at least ten miles an hour faster than my thirty (there are no speed limits for bicycles).  We were, in fact, in a race and I had something of an advantage. I was riding a motorcycle.


It was during the brief time that I was a member of council of the British Motorcyclists’ Federation and I was sitting on Islington’s Sustainable Transport Round Table or one of its predecessors – so I was invited to a race of different “transport modes” from Archway to Old Street roundabout.  When I turned up two things struck me especially on seeing the local press. One was that I ought to have turned up in my van and got the press to photograph it for the publicity and the second that I wasn’t very welcome in what was basically an exercise to demonstrate the superiority of the bicycle. That a motorcycle can outspeed a bike over distance, even as in this case mostly downhill, seemed pretty obvious and only detracted from what was important (and it is important) –  the facility in London of the bicycle as an alternative to car, bus and taxi.


I knew Jeremy slightly from when I had campaigned against the pilot Red Route (don’t ask) that went straight through his constituency.  He has always been an excellent constituency MP (I also knew his colleague, Chris Smith of Islington South, who, I have often thought,  would have made an excellent Labour leader). We had a chat. What about? Furniture.  Jeremy was going through a divorce and needed some new furniture at a discount (no relying on parliamentary expenses for him, then).  I had a furniture shop.  Divorce is a dreadful business.  Whatever the emotional effect, it makes everybody poorer.  But if you are in the furniture business, let’s face it, it’s a godsend.


It’s from this divorce, I believe, that Jeremy gained the habit of not answering questions he didn’t like. A local radio man asked him why his children were going to a selective school.  It was an unfair question because it was Mrs Corbyn who had made the decision (in fact it is said to have contributed to the divorce) and the interviewer knew this and was hesitant.  Corbyn remained silent. The question was asked again, more sheepishly, with again no reply.  After a pause the interviewer moved on to another question as if nothing had happened. It’s a good technique in those circumstances but it must be disastrous against a confident and aggressive questioner.


Although the bicyclists gained an early lead I drew ahead of them and soon couldn’t see them behind me. It was then that I had a hare and tortoise moment and decided that, ahead as I was, I could detour up a short diversion to approach the finish point on the correct side of the road. I hit roadworks and when I finally got through I had been pipped. Second. Unfortunately, the spirit of competition had now seized the bicyclists, an appeal was made and the winner disqualified for riding on the pavement. I kept my head down and the guy who came third was declared winner.  As for Jeremy, I didn’t see him so I assume he made his appearance, started the race and then quietly fell out.  That may be indicative of something but then MPs have a lot to do.


What do I think of Jeremy ?  I think there is a job description for someone who holds the torch to preserve unsullied the spirit and soul of his party.  But that isn’t the job description of the leader.


The Islington Gazette wrote up the race with the rather ungraceful comment,  “It would have been a different result if they’d run it uphill”.


Happy Christmas from Stoke Newington

Best Holiday wishes on Christmas Eve and the first day of Channukah


This Madonna fron the Hackney artist Stik

You might also like the Seven Wonders of Stoke Newington


The Stoke Newington ROYAL FAMILY courtesy of Banksy, only just saved from Hackney Council’s Olympic cleanup


The RIVER IN THE SKY: The New River, a Sixteenth Century fresh water conduit,  crosses the escarpment to Haringey


The BLUE MOSQUE on Stoke Newington High Street


GHOSTS: The Ghost Signs of Stoke Newington

The KINGDOM of the DEAD :  Abney Park Cemetery


Robinson Crusoe’s ISLAND – This, blighted and disrespected,  is Daniel Defoe’s wall, the last bit of his estate otherwise remembered only in the DEFOE and ROBINSON CRUSOE pubs. Even his tombstone has been pillaged and carried off by that lot over in Clapton! Plan courtesy and (c) @historyofstokey