Saturday, July 21, 2018

Our High Streets are dying..

So with the demise of Poundworld another UK High street chain bites the dust.

UK government at national level appears almost totally focused on our relationship with Europe, the cabinet battles to present a united front and the lives of the UK electorate, sadly are marginal to the political intrigue.

Along with education, jobs and health the general well being of the populace is influenced by the environment both in terms of green spaces and the near legendary 'High Street'.

In London areas of need and comparative deprivation abut areas of wealth - for me Ealing centre remains relatively prosperous but just a few miles down from Ealing West Ealing  is suffering as large retailers have closed and moved - the list is long of shops and restaurants  here are some I recall from the area.

Moved out

Marks and Spencer's, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Curry's, Poundland,WH Smith

Gone for Good

Woolworths, BHS, Rumbelows (remember them) and now Poundworld.

Poundworld closing- Mmany pressures including High Street Rates and Brexit 

That's without banks and Building societies whose business model has resulted in a large scale change in their operation.

Well that's a sad story but West London does have the benefit (economic anyway) just around the corner of Crossrail and the likely effects of Heathrow expansion

Crossrail is bringing money (and flats) to West London

Contrast this with a town like Margate - which really is rather sad.

Part of the problem is the proclivity of Government (National and local) to perhaps without realising starve (if not kill) the Chicken laying the egg (not always golden).
Art Pop Ups can only help

Also the creative industries can help - not only do they help with gentrification they actually make people feel better. 

Let's hope Government refocuses on people and community before the only chain stores left are Primark, Aldi and Lidl.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Highgate - Further London Villages

View from Shepherd's Hill
This week our Further London villages walk was Highgate, we met at the station which had once been part of another line in North London.- before we met I took a walk to Shepherd's Hill where you get a good view of Alexandra Palace.

The Priory Gardens entrance of the station where an unused platform can be observed

The Hillcrest Estate

Really surprised to find Highgate such a nice area of London, it has a large area of woodland  and some great views, far more suburban than I had expected.

We saw some fine (I would say) architecture including municipal housing called The Hillcrest  Estate.

We also saw some flats designed for Sigmund Gestetner by Berthold Lubetkin for his workers

Flats designed by Berthold Lubetkin

Famous residents now include Jude Laws but in the past Dickens passed through.

George's home still a destination  for his fans 

Charles Dickens - not his permanent home 

Highgate's Institution

George Michael the Pop Singer was a famous resident and for a while after his early death the area was a destination for his fans.
Home for the Fair

George  was quietly quietly philanthropic and as well as making donations to individuals he was a backer of Highgate fair held in the (although it's not) square which has Highgate's Institution across the road.

Literary figures have lived in Highgate  too - JB Priestley lived in the same house that  Samuel Taylor- Coleridge had lived in before a - like George  Michael Coleridge had drug issues.

Houseman the poet was another poet who  lived in the same road.

Another poet's home -Houseman 

Dead figures also featured as near to St Joseph's church we saw the graveyard that is where Karl Marx is laid to rest -Karl Marx was non-practising Jew he was buried in non consecrated ground.

2 plaques one house

From the perimeter the graveyard that's home to the remains of Karl Marx 

A most impressive Catholic Church St Joseph's was viewed inside and out
Outside the church

St Joseph's Church

Inside the church

As we approached the shops we saw a Pub used by comedian Graham Chapman.

A Pub used by Graham Chapman 
A 'copious' drinker 

I should also mention the significant New River (NR) marking and an associated building..

NR = New River 
A Building for water

Monday, July 16, 2018

BEAT Shop Pops Up again

So BEAT, the Ealing OPEN (Art) studios event  is running again this September and as last year they've managed to arrange with Landlords of  The Ealing Broadway Centre' (British Land) the use of a shop unit that's currently without tenants.
Pieta By Nick Brown

As much a publicity vehicle as a sales opportunity, I've had some really interesting conversations with people who've come for a look around - it's refreshing to find so many people interested in the OPEN studios both as visitors and as potential contributors

Steve Hackett has made this little visual tour of the exhibition Pop-Up (opposite Poundland in the Broadway centre)  - if you like it come along and see us..

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Back to the 80's (and more) at Kew the Music.

More than 30 years and still going strong 
I'm not surprised how many years since we went to our first Kew music concerts, I know we've seen some big names and great concerts from the regulars (Like Jools Holland and guests) through the legends like Chic featuring Nile Rogers and another  year the super smooth Bryan Ferry but it's a pretty great place to enjoy music outside without having to pack a tent and drive hundreds of miles.

LUNA and her band - lots of energy and a good voice 

This year we opted for the Friday, the opening act was LUNA -a great high energy performance with a strong voice from lead singer (reminded me a little of both Emeli Sandé and Amy Winehouse ).

AFTER lUNA we had the hit making 80's slightly angst-y Blancmange - they kicked off with Abba's The day before you came and did seem (still) slightly cool.
Neil still manages to carry off an 'Angst-y' look at 60

Living in the ceiling does (now seem to me) more than a throwaway number and they had a couple of other hits which they performed at Kew in a workmanlike manner - seems really they're Neil Arthur and although he located the group as a Harrow combo' he's noticeably Northern and Harrow (London) is where they formed in the 80's

But then the moment many of us that had really brought us out - The Human League, I first saw them something like 35 years ago with a very different line up but I was impressed then (partly by their oddity and the style of Phil Oakey).
The hair has changed but the voice still good

At 62 Oakey has made the sensible decision to accept the Veronica Lake haircut is no longer a possibility for him - but amusing beard shows the style gene is still active as were his left field clothes choices- lots of great hits performed and the audiences's antithetic  singing  accompaniment to  'don't you want me?' I found oddly touching..

{nice documentary on the hugely influential  band here}

A great night out...