Monday, 27 March 2017

McCartney vs Lennon - Who is the best songwriter?

Last week was a tad heavy, let's start Monday on a lighter note. There has long been an argument as to who was the better songwriter, John Lennon or Paul McCartney. Most people agree there best work was together, with George Martin producing. Many Beatles fans blame their respective spouses for the break up. Both were clearly deeply committed and in love with their wives, so to aid your decision making, here is the love songs they both penned following the split. In my humble opinion, Macca wins hands down. What do you think?



Sunday, 26 March 2017

It's not the Poor who need to get religion!

This blog is in memory of Father Jim Fanning MHM RIP. Yesterday I attended his memorial mass at The Sacred Heart Church in Mill Hill. Jim spent 38 years as a Missionary in Africa. Jim was an exceptional character. His career as a missionary took him to Zaire/Congo, Uganda and Kenya. In the course of his mission, he learned the local languages and dialects, believing that it was a vital part of his mission. His final African parish in the Congo was literally in the middle of nowhere. He installed solar panels for electricity and for a man in his 60's it all proved a bit too much and his health gave out. Jim believed that his mission was to bring hope and solace to the worlds poorest people. He started many educational projects, believing this was the best way out of poverty for the people he was ministering to.
Listening to the fine words spoken at his service, I realised that in some ways, Jim had got it wrong. Of course, it is a good thing to seek to work with the worlds poor. But I don't believe that any amount of aid, any amount of educational projects or any amount of ministry will solve their problems. In the short term, such things alleviate plagues and famine and any decent person should support them. As a missionary, a man like Jim also believes that the poor need faith to find redemption. However as I sat listening to the fine words, in Jims memory, it occurred to me that perhaps we've got it all wrong. We have red nose days for Africa, we have mission appeals for the poor. We have charity shops raising money to help "those in need". We have priests such as my cousing telling us of the struggle of the poor. But in a blinding flash of inspiration, I saw the light. Right there before me.

It isn't the poor who need to get religion at all. It is not charity they need. Red nose day is like buying a starving man a trouser press, hoping that pleated trousers will get him a job, whilst failing to realise he's dying of starvation. It is completely missing the point. The Priests and the Preachers need to reboot their thinking. At some point in the last century, Hellfire and Brimstone went out of fashion. These days it doesn't even seem to be a prerequiste that you believe in God to be a Priest in some quarters. The sad truth is that both old school priests and new style priests have failed the poor. Not because they haven't worked hard with their missions etc. They have failed because they've been preaching the wrong message, brimstone or not. It is not the poor who should be on the receiving end of the message. It is the rich, those with the power and money. Those who exploit those who are not in a position to argue. The sickening thing is that many of the rich and powerful claim to have religious affiliation. But they either have not listened to the message or they don't care. the sad truth about planet earth is that there is enough to go around, but the wealth is not spread in an equitable fashion. In the 19th century the likes of Karl Marx recognised this inequality, but his solution did not really grasp the nettle that humans are by nature greedy. Communism is a splendid idea, but having visited China and the USSR in the heyday of communism, it was clear that the system was hopelessly corrupt and society was just as unequal, if not more so than the UK.

Reading history tells me that the few times when the lot of the poor has been improved is when the mega rich get a sense of morality and make a few sacrifices to help those lower down the tree. Perhaps the best example of this was when the likes of William Wilberforce lead a moral crusade, steeped in his strong Christian faith, to abolish slavery. This week we saw the leaders of the main faiths in the UK get together to condemn terrorism. Terrorism is a terrible scourge, but poverty and inequality will kill tens of millions this year, far more than terrorists. This inequality is the seed that feeds the anger that breeds the angry young men. The global arms trade fuels the conflicts. The international banking system favours the rich and powerful. Corruption is rife, subverting elections and corrupting the decent. The leaders of all of the faiths know this. But they have positions of privelige in the establishment. Many ordinary people are turned off religion as they see religious people as two faced, telling us what we do wrong, whilst dressing in ermine and living in guilded palaces. Honest, decent and straightforward priests have been failed for centuries by those at the top. In my faith, the Roman Catholic church, a truly scandalous level of paedophile abuse was systematically hushed up. I've never been able to understand how this happened or even why. But the Jimmy Savile case perhaps gives a window into that murky world. You see it is rather convenient for the powerful.  Having compromised priests means that they have useful patsies in the pulpit, keeping their flocks quiet and obedient. Do the powerful have any creed other than a lust for power and money? I do wonder. Maybe they have no sense of morality at all? But just suppose they have a sliver of faith and humanity in their soul. Do pliant clergy really serve them? Telling people what they want to hear, rather than the truth is perhaps the greatest evil of all. Maybe the rich and powerful need some wise counsel from the faith leaders. Of course some, maybe many have no faith at all. But some do. You simply don't know if a door will open until you knock on it. Of course, as many of us have seen, there are fundamentalists (in all faiths) who are seemingly hell bent (forgive the pun) on spreading division and sucking up to the powerful vested interests. But by and large, these are marginal figures.

I think we need  a massive realignment in the worlds faithful. There are people of goodwill, humility and decency in all faiths. They need to put their differences to one side and start demanding that the leaders, the high profile figures, use their influence to make a better world for the poorest and weakest. Some people will have read this and say "what about atheists?". To me, we are all part of the same family, statistically atheists are no different to people of faith in terms of basic decency, so it is logical that they would have the same concerns for their less well off brothers and sisters.  A fair and equitable world is surely one that any person would want to live in. I simply refuse to believe that anyone wants to see their fellow man suffer. No decent person wants to see human misery afflicting other people.

What I am trying to say is that it is time to change the way we think about the worlds poor. We should see inequality and injustice as a solvable problem. We should not tolerate leaders of nations or faiths who say that it is something we can't deal with. The argument that the religious right use to justify the unjustifiable is that Jesus said "The poor will always be with us". There will always be people with less, there is no way we can all have the same share. There will always be people with problems. But this is no excuse for allowing people to starve, people to be poisoned by bad water, there is no excuse for denying people medical care, there is no excuse for denying people education and opportunity. The planet is rich enough to give this to everyone. I don't think that is too much to ask. That will only happen when it is the rich and powerful that get the lectures, the rich and powerful who get missionaries despatched to get them to mend their ways and the rich and powerful get the message that living it up at the expense of the very existence of a billion poor people is simply not acceptable by any measure.  It is time that the United Nations came up with a basic set of rights that every citizen of planet earth should be entitled to. This means enough food to eat. Clean water, basic medical welfare, shelter, education and freedom from persecution. Is that really such a radical thing to hope and pray for? Wouldn't it be nice if that was a message our faith leaders started preaching from the pulpit, especially at the rich, corrupt and greedy?

The Tweets of the week in The London Borough of Barnet - 26/03/2017

Yet another exciting week in the London Borough of Barnet. This week we celebrate Mothers Day and the start of Spring! Don't forget to follow our top tweeters.

1. As it's mothers day, we start with a rather nice tribute from one of our best friends, former Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman to his 93 year old mum. The exceptional Mrs Gladys Coleman must have joined the ATS at the very young age of 17 in 1941, so hats off to her. Mr Coleman is quite correct that what happened in London is nothing like the Blitz and what his mother would have seen in Coventry. It does however give us all an opportunity to show that we are civilised and decent people. Happy Birthday to Mrs Coleman and all of the other mums, old and young (I've always had a soft spot for Brians mum as she's the same age as my mum would have been and they were both called Gladys).
2. This looks like a lesson that a few young people in Hendon will remember for a very long time!

3. Anne Clark seems surprised that Barnet Councillors don't read the Guardian? I'd be surprised if one or two of them had progressed beyond Jack and Jill

4. North Finchley are having a music festival!

5. The old Finchley and Friern Barnet Border. Now harmoniously united!

6. We have a new Blue Plaque in Golders Green

7.It's looking good up at Long Lane Pasture!

8.Spring has arrived in N20!

9.It's even sunny in Cricklewood - and the trains are running!

10.And even in Mill Hill!

... Thats all folks!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Saturday List #123 - 10 reasons why terrorists will always lose in London

I woke up this morning to the 8am news on the radio and there was a mention of Wednesdays outrage at The Houses of Parliament. My first reaction was one of sadness. Sadness for the people who are mourning for loved ones needlessly and senselessly killed. My second thought was for the poor people injured and still in hospital. Some will have had their life changed permanantly. What for? What possible good did the deluded fool who committed this outrage think this would achieve. The news story said that "all but two of the people arrested following the outrage have been released".What can we read into this? At this stage, it is hard to read too much into this, other than it looks as if this guy wasn't part of a particulary well armed, organised or trained network of terrorists. It looks more and more likely that he's just a nutcase who flipped. In the USA, nutcases flip on a regular basis and go on shooting sprees. Luckily for us, it seems that our gun control laws have ensured that this nutcase perhaps did less damage than he might have. I don't really suppose it will be much solace to those injured and loved ones of those killed, but for the rest of us, it seems that we have a degree of safety from such episodes of insanity. In certain other countries, where you can buy automatic weapons without any checks at all, can you imagine the mayhem that someone who cares none for their own wellbeing can cause.

I don't believe that nutcases such as this man will ever succeed. I don't believe more well organised groups will either. I thought I'd list the reasons why London is so resilient to such attacks.

1. It is a sad truth that everyone living in London is rather used to it. We've had the IRA, The Angry Brigade, The Nazi homophobe who bombed The Admiral Duncan. Hitler blitzed London. As a now famous Facebook meme said "we just drink tea and carry on.

2. We are surrounded by all creeds and colours. It is far easier to spread division against people we don't know or understand. In London, we rely on people from everywhere to make our city function. We have no "fear of other" because we are all part of the same body and we all contribute.

3. We trust our police. The Met is not perfect. It makes mistakes. But Londoners trust the Police. The Met tries to be as open and transparent as any modern Police force can. Most officers aren't armed. Therefore we know that a policeman is not some sort of paramilitary thug.

4. The Authorities have decades of experience of planning for such events. When bad things happen, the emegency services are well drilled in responding as quickly and professionally as possible

5. GCHQ. The UK leads the world in electronic survelliance. Contrary to the fantasies of Donald Trump, they have better things to do than listen to him discussing whether to have sheddies or coco
pops with Melania. Dozens of terrorist plots have been disrupted and stopped in their tracks. They do real, grown up work 24 x 7, 365 days a year.

6. Art and Culture. London is a great melting pot of art and culture. Londons music scene has been influenced by the heritage of our population from all over the world. We welcome artsist, many of whom have fled repression and persecution. Their art informs us of the struggles of people all over the world. No city on the planet has more exposure to other cultures, therefore no city is more robust in its regection of ignorance.

7. Our gun laws. It is virtually impossible to get hold of guns, especially hand guns and automatic weapons. Whilst cars and kitchen knives clearly can cause mayhem, we don't see the dozens of people killed that we see in certain other countries, when lunatics lose the plot.

8. We reject extremists of all creeds and colours. Sadly, when we get events such as what happened on Wednesday, there are always people of ill intent who seek to exploit such events to further all manner of unpleasant agendas. Happily, Londoners are exceptionally savvy and spot this for what it its.

9. Mustn't grumble! Londoners have a very stoical attitude to both triumph and adversity. A Londoner wins the lotter and you ask how they're doing "mustn't grumble". A Londoner gets delayed for three hours and has to walk home in the rain from central London due to a terrorist adversity "Had better days".  I was discussing the atrocity with a friend last night. The subject of the poor chap from Utah, killed on the bridge came up. My friend said "I just hope he'd had a really happy day up until then and that he didn't know too much about it". To me that was a very typically London response to a very sad event.

10. We pull together. When we are faced with adversity, we pile in and do what we can. Parliament puts the usual tribal differences aside and we look to our Prime Minister to show statesmanship. Theresa May did not disappoint. There was a small moment, as MP's trailed out, where hero Conservative MP Tobias Elwood, alone in his thoughts was approached by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn. I've no idea what exactly Corbyn said, but it was clearly meant to offer some sort of solace. That is what we do.

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Friday Joke - 24/03/2017

A man and his wife were having some problems and were giving each other the silent treatment. The next week, the man realized that he'd need his wife to wake him at 5 a.m. for an early flight.
Not wanting to be the first to break the silence, he finally wrote on a piece of paper: "Please wake me at 5 a.m."
The next morning the man woke up, only to discover it was 9 a.m. and he'd missed his flight.
Furious, he was about to go and scream at his wife when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed that said: "It's 5 a.m. Wake up.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

London life goes on after the failure of the worlds most inept terrorist

My daytime office is less than 3/4 of a mile from Parliament. I actually heard the shots faintly ring out. In central London you hear all manner of noises,so I wasn't initially too disturbed. Then I heard the sirens and the skies filled up with helicopters. It became clear that all was not well.

Then as the story unfolded the horror of what happened became apparent.  A very sick minded individual had mown down a bunch of innocent people on a bridge, stabbed an unarmed police officer and been shot by armed police. What did this sick man hope to achieve? That we can only speculate. This morning, London got up and went to work as usual, maybe in a more sombre mood, but the city does what it always does when such atrocities happen.

I have no idea what the stupid fool of a terrorist hoped would happen, but he has achieved a few things. Let me spell these out.

1. He has reaffirmed that the London Police are the finest police force on the planet. I could not be prouder of them. I for one am thankful that we have brave policement who do not carry guns routinely.  It also shows that those who are armed are very well trained. The terrorist was despatched with three bullets. There was not a hail of bullets and dozens of innocent bystanders shot. The terrorist has reaffirmed my belief that London and the British Police are the best. He has made me very proud of the men and women who serve and protect us.

2. Our ambulance and medical services are exceptional people. Who knows what they were walking into? But walk into it they did. They deserve our praise and gratitude. The terrorist has simply demonstrated that in London, our society has delivered us a fantastic team of emergency services who are brave and heroic. That gives me great reassurance.

Image result for conservative MP cpr policeman3. Every time there is such an atrocity, London always seems to throw up an unlikely hero. There is always someone who emerges from the picture with bravery and courage. There is always an unsung hero (often more than one) who is an example to us all. Yesterday, that hero was Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood. I hadn't heard of Mr Ellwood before yesterdays atrocity. He is just one of the hundreds of MP's who go about there business and try and ensure the country is well run and democratically accountable. What I didn't know before yesterday is that Mr Ellwood is also a very brave and heroic man. The pictures of him trying to save a stabbed policeman touched my heart. No one would have questioned him if he'd run and hid. But he didn't He ended up soaked in blood, vainly using his military and medical training to try and save a fellow man. This is clearly the sort of man I'd want for my MP, even if I don't agree with his politics. If there was an election tomorrow, I would vote for him. The terrorist has simply remphasised that there is more that joins us as decent people than divides us.

4. Last night, I went for a curry, in the very fine Mill Hill Tandoori restaurant. The owner is a very good friend of mine and a Muslim. We are still friends. We share a horror of what such people do. The sick terrorist simply gave us another opportunity to reaffirm that we are both hard working, peaceful citizens. There is no division. There will never be.

In short, whatever the sick idiotic fool was trying to do, what ever division he was trying to spread, not only did he fail, but he had completely the opposite effect. He has gone to meet his maker, with the blood of innocent people on his hands. There is no holy book anywhere, in any creed that says "though shalt butcher the innocent with no regard for the sanctity of life".  I believe that people who perpetrate such acts have been lied to and mislead. The God I believe in does not give them a reward for such henious acts of barbarity. I don't know whether God has the compassion to forgive such people, given that someone has corrupted and perverted their notion of what faith is. What I do know is that, tragic though it is, through the actions of such despicable and evil people, we actually often get to see the very best in our fellow citizens and we get to be reminded of just how lucky we are to live in London, the capital city of the world. I hope and pray that this is the last terrorist atrocity that befalls our city. I hope and pray that men of hatred see the futility of their actions. I hope and pray that the leaders of all faiths and creeds spread the message that hatred and violence are not the way of God and people of faith. I hope and pray that we don't harden our hearts and we continue to treat all the citizens of our city with love and respect. But most of all, today, I hope and pray that all Londoners have as quiet and peaceful a day as is possible in the circumstances. I believe that if ever there was a chosen people, it is the citizens of our fine city. We are lucky as we have everything we need to have a rich and fulfilled life. We should cherish that every single day. The men of hate will not prevail. Ever.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Wednesday Poem #15 - Chuck Berry

Image result for "chuck berry"
Chuck Berry RIP
Mr Chuck Berry has left the stage.
 We won't see his like again,
Those words often said in recent years,
But never so true.

Mr Chuck Berry has left the stage.
From every player of the electric guitar,
We Salute You.

Copyright 2017 - Roger Tichborne

For me, Chuck Berry is perhaps the most important musician of the the last century. There were technically better players, there were better song writers, there were better songwriters, there were better looking dude's, there were cleverer dudes. But there was no one else ho was Mr Chuck Berry! He invented being a Rock and Roll guitarist. Others may have refined the art, but I love my rock and roll dirty and raw. When yous aw Chuck Berry, you saw a show. I doubt there are any decent electric guitarists anywhere, who haven't at some point played Johnny B. Goode. When you were putting a rock and roll band together, it was almost a right of passage that you had a bash at Johnny B. Goode.  I had a quick search of Youtube vids of the song. Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, Elvis Presley, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Coldplay, Peter Tosh, Tom Jones, Jimmy Hendrix, Prince, Suzi Quatro, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones to name a few.

But my favourite Chuck Berry song was always Roll Over Beethhoven and this is my favourite video of it. Chuck looks great in this clip. And yes, I've knocked out a rather dodgy version of Johnny B.Goode in my day! This is how I want to remember the great man!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Barnet Council Overdevelopment update - Housing planned for Whalebones Park

 Whalebones Park

Many people in and around the Barnet area have grown up with a fond attachment to Whalebones Park in Barnet. As a child, it was always a big Sunday treat to go out for a drive in my dad's Humber Hawk car. Perhaps the favourite destination was Whalebones and I listed it as one of the top ten things to see in Barnet back in July 2012, when we were only on our eigth Saturday list (we've now done over 120!). 

Gwyneth Cowing left the 14 acre site  Whalebones Park to the people of Barnet but now the trustees want to sell off 11 acres to builders.  Their aim at this stage is to include the land in the council’s new local plan for housing development, even though Whalebones falls within the Wood Street Conservation area.

The trustees of Whalebones have approached builders about development of the site. If this is ratified it gives development a green light despite being opposed by several councillors and Theresa Villiers local MP.

The development excludes the three acres belonging to Whalebones house which has recently been sold but may now also be under threat. Initially prep work will include site investigation including heritage, archeological and environmental, but given the fact that the recent one in the land next door was whitewashed with no wildlife findings being taken into account any done so now will need to be thorough.

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Whalebones development
We are asking that every person who is a friend of Whalebones lets local MP Theresa Villiers know of their opposition to this scheme. Go on the link to The Barnet Society and leave objections in the comments box. Write or email the council to let them know your feelings.  If anyone is or knows of ANY experts in any areas that might be of use please bring them on board. If anyone can help with ideas please do, We have a facebook page to help pull the campaign together, please join. 

Please share this post to anyone and everyone, let's show the trustees and the council just what it means to Barnet.

Barnet Tories gear up for an election, Barnet Labour gear up for a civil war

Yesterday I got a paid advery on my Facebook feed from the Barnet Conservatives. The Tories are not mugs, they don't waste money. This can only mean one thing. An election is in the air. As for Barnet Labour? They have more important things to worry about, such as the civil war in the Labour Party. It beggars belief that as the Tories are planning what may be the most important election in our lifetime, Labour is only able to kick lumps out of their fellow comrades. I will resist the urge to point fingers at the Blairites, the Brownites or Momentum. They resemble a football team where the left winger would rather the opposition score than pass to a team mate on the right. Labour are now a basket case, they are no longer a serious party. They have no unified position on any important issue. As such, they are allowing the hard right of the Tory party to destroy the country. The hard right are not stupid. They know that with Labour in disarray, it represents a unique opportunity to grab power.

If Labour does not wake up and smell the coffee, they will be guilty of letting a very dangerous genie out of the bottle.

Monday, 20 March 2017

George Osborne - Just the latest Russian patsy politician?

It has been reported that George Osborne has become the new editor of the Evening Standard. There are many questions, not least how can someone do a full time job and represent their consttuents. But there is a deeper and more disturbig question. Why did the Russian billionare owner of the Standard appoint a man with no experience at all of editing or journalism to run his paper. What on earth could justify a £220,000 a year salary?  Last week, we saw Donald Trump, another Politician with a questionable relationship with Russia attack GCHQ. Anyone who knows anything about Russia, knows that GCHQ is seen by the Russians as threat no 1 to their global ambitions. Whatever you may think of Osborne, it is unquestionably true that having an MP on the payroll is a very useful thing for Russia and its ambitions.