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News and Comment April 2020

Index: 2020

29 April - A third planning application for Leather Bottle site

Belvedere Labour131 Heron Hill is never long out of the news, once the address of Bexley’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Leather Bottle but for the past five years a dangerous blot on the local landscape.

Yesterday news broke that the site was the subject of a third planning application. 20/00857/FULM. The developer has switched from houses to a three or four storey 70 bed care home.

The local Labour Councillors put out the Tweet shown here which also refers to the Belvedere Hotel although it might be easier to read on Facebook.

The site has an unenviable history, the pub knocked down without prior warning, Bexley Council looking the other way and ignoring the protestations of local residents and Councillors alike and eventually the site owner being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive and found guilty last year.

The following blogs provide the history…

No Bottle - September 2015
More Bottle - September 2015
Bexley Council knows - September 2015
First sign of demolition - October 2015
They’ve got a lot of Bottle - March 2016
Excavators on site - April 2016
One enormous iron cliff - April 2016
A dangerous hole - April 2016
Hole gets worse - April 2016
Planning application - May 2016
Bought for more than half a million, it will be down soon - June 2016
Down it comes with threats - June 2016
Useless Council - June 2016
Bexley’s secretive Council -January 2017
Planning Application - September 2017
Plans rejected - October 2017
Still a bombsite - February 2018
Another Planning Application - April 2018
Professionals versus Cowboys - July 2018
H&SE confirm their interest - November 2018
More activity on site - June 2019
Local Labour Councillors succeed after Bexley Council let us all down - August 2019
Karma - September 2019
A slap on the wrist - October 2019
Has Singh moved in? - 4th December 2019
Once it was the Bottle, now it’s jam jars - January 2020
I went to the pub - March 2020

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28 April - 200% idiocy

MuslimsRight from the outset of this Corona pandemic it was reported that the Muslim community was suffering at a rate far in excess of what population numbers would suggest might be normal and there have been calls for an enquiry as to why that should be. I think I can save the taxpayer a lot of money.

I have had to drive to East Ham (†) rather more often than I would like in recent days, three medical emergencies, two ambulance call outs encouraged by the GP who diagnoses (wrongly) via WhatsApp videos, and yesterday the regular food and sundries delivery.

East Ham is in the borough of Newham which has the worst Covid-19 record in London. One GP has died there.

Upon arrival I noted that my aunt’s front door was wide open and at the end of the 30 inch wide hallway I found two men talking to her in barely comprehensible English. No masks, no gloves, no possibility of Social Distancing. It transpired that they were from next door where a lovely Muslim lady lived until a year ago. The new tenants had never made themselves known until yesterday.

Apparently their youngster had thrown a shoe over the back garden fence and the brain dead had thought it sensible to invade an old lady’s house, contrary to every Corona related rule, and berate her for not understanding that they needed to get into the back garden.

I keep the back door locked as a safety measure.

So these two cretins have undone six weeks of precautions over which the vulnerable old lady has seen only one carer and me, both of us taking every possible precaution. The carer has not allowed her children out of her house (she says they are too scared to go outside) and her husband is out of work and hiding in his back garden.

To prevent recurrence of the invasion I have had to use both locks on the front door which is a fire risk. Aunt can only undo one of them from inside.

The back fence is no more than four feet high and even I managed to hop over it before I removed the bolts from the front door.

† For the record I have found the roads quiet except while passing through Woolwich. Charlton, the tunnel, Canning Town and the A13 have all been, not empty, but very much less busy than usual.


27 April - 100% idiocy

Letter Letter
LetterThe police have not come out of this lockdown well have they? Idiocy almost beyond comprehension all over the place but it will be a small proportion even if it does include Cressida Dick. On the other hand 100% of Home Secretaries have been found lacking.

I couldn’t care less that Priti Patel does a Dianne Abbott with big numbers but I am appalled by her hang ‘em and flog ‘em mentality first noted when she appeared on Question Time in 2011. One might have sympathy with that view in some cases but as recent events have demonstrated, the police are perfectly willing to stitch people up and expect judges to believe them over the falsely accused.

Insider knowledge suggests the Home Secretary is not looking for the truth on the Daniel Morgan murder enquiry and last Thursday at the daily Covid-19 press conference she was calling for stiffer penalties for lockdown transgressions at the very time that there is a groundswell of opinion going in the opposite direction.

I have tried to see the good side of our Home Secretary, she sometimes says sensible things, trouble is she never ever carries them through. Simply hopeless.


23 April - What a bore. It has to end

What is everyone doing? Apart, that is, from telling me that the people running Bexley Council’s Twitter account are “living on a different planet” with their bin collection advice. I am inclined to agree; I think one of the paper bins a couple of doors up the road from me will have been out and filled to the brim for six weeks come tomorrow. Last Saturday the lorry came to the end of the road but according to neighbours, not along it.

My gutters are cleaned, the patio is washed, the front drive is getting the same treatment, the shed is ‘creosoted’ and the fence is progressing at the rate of a panel a day. What is the point of rushing, the ‘paint’ won’t last for ever and thanks to our hapless government I cannot get any more.

They have saved the NHS from being overwhelmed and well done for that but now Ministers seem to think they can save everyone from dying.

Of the three people I knew who had the new Chinese Flu two ladies, one 73 and the other 76, both with underlying problems, are now recovering. One was even given a final Goodbye visit but then defied the odds. The one who didn’t survive was the one who committed suicide because of the mental pressures.

Government ministers don’t seem to care about that. I started isolating as much as possible before the official 23rd March date. I mentioned it in an email to a friend on 8th March and my last train trip was on the 14th.

I had a visitor on the 18th and no one but me has been inside since then. Shopping done for me by a Good Samaritan. If any Government minister thinks that tens of thousands of fit septuagenarians are going to tolerate that for much longer then they are truly in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Those who are not so fortunate may think differently but they must be allowed that independent thought. We all know what Social Distancing is by now and to keep away from public transport but being put in solitary confinement for more than another few weeks is just not on.

Some government ministers have simply lost the plot, can’t see the wood for the trees. They must take advice from more people than Chief Medical Officers. We need economists and psychoanalysts involved, especially now that the Prime Minister has probably been scared witless by his own experience, but some of us weren’t silly enough to go around shaking hands with all and sundry well after the dangers were obvious, like he did.

What else has filled some time? I was tracked down by a second cousin I was not really aware that I had and we have exchanged a good few emails. Her husband has no income because he is a contractor to Sudbury Council and all work has stopped. That can’t go on for ever.

In another sign that people don’t know what to do with themselves a pupil at my old school sent me a picture of the Prefects taken five years after I left. It turns out we were both in our time Presidents or whatever of the school photographic club. It was really only a way of getting hold of free printing paper and developer.

Once a week some friends set up a conference call and tell me how their lives are continuing in a slightly restricted way with their wives and dogs. They mean well but I don’t think it is helping a great deal when in solitary confinement myself.

The pharmacist in East Ham does its best to relieve the monotony by screwing up the pill delivery service for the fifth consecutive month and the old lady continues to be a worry.

Pull hereThere is little by way of light relief unless you count Council Tweets about when your bin will next be collected. In the main Bexley Council’s Twitter feed has been full of well meaning and sometimes helpful advice on what the most vulnerable members of society can do to help themselves - but not all of them. The attached image was Tweeted by a Senior Director. It is reproduced here at a very small size because I am not sure that everyone will want to see it. If you are broadminded you can click the image to see it more clearly.

The few who notice such things may have seen there is now a full set of 2020 blogs on-line. I think all the links back to earlier ones work and the good news is that the massive error log due to broken links has been controlled by means of a far from elegant bit of coding. But it seems to work. There is more to worry about right now than a dirty coding bodge.

I might say Happy St. George’s Day but it always reminds me of the fact that my mother died on St. George’s Day. I suppose she felt she had to after my father chose St. Patrick’s Day to pop his clogs.


21 April - That went well then



20 April (Part 2) - Eff ‘em

I listen to Maajid Nawaz on LBC radio at the weekend with my finger very frequently hovering over the off button; it’s not his left wing views that get up my nose but his hectoring style. When it descends into rudeness and humiliation of listeners less intelligent than himself, off he goes.

CovidHis position on Corona has however been a revelation, an almost lone voice of common sense and his demolition yesterday of the Sunday Timesְ’ mischievous and sometimes silly critique of government’s alleged inaction and mistakes was right on the button, as were his views on backing off the lockdown.

Some of the ideas floated are simply ridiculous. All over 70s banged up against their will for a year and within the last few minutes I have heard October 2021.

I am not unaware of the dangers of Covid-19; among my friends, relations and acquaintances, I have a Covid related slow recovery, someone on oxygen and not expected to survive and a suicide respectively. All females as it happens which apparently bucks the national statistics.

A man who lives further up my street was discharged from hospital and died the next day.

The problem with government ministers flitting between three houses is that most will not realise the hardship being forced on to others. Some people have no money and my daughter whose job involves knowing everything there is to know about benefit payments has told me she has been helping via a Facebook Group dozens of people who have fallen through the cracks in the system. Single mothers with less than £20 left to last until God knows when.

The lockdown itself is killing people and it is killing the economy. The idea that pubs cannot reopen until December is well past ridiculous if a single pub is to survive.

The suggestion that everyone aged 70 and over should be imprisoned for a year is well beyond insanity. If they are vulnerable to the virus they must eventually be allowed to weigh up the consequences, the state of the health service and make their decision but many of us are thankfully fit and well. I know of fifty and sixty year olds who are in a pretty poor state, over-weight, ex-smokers etc. all of whom I leave far behind if I am walking with them in a group.

By telephone I’ve discussed the matter with eight septuagenarians and their views are all the same. We don’t have many years left and we are not going to have one taken away confined to barracks some alone with their lives on hold.

Given the choice of not seeing their families or grandchildren grow up or the fairly small risk of dying even the most docile of them gave me the headline title for this piece. As you might expect, the Parisians are already making their views known on the streets.

Boris; go back to your libertarian roots, do the right thing, ease off next month and give us something to look forward or you will never be forgiven.

Yesterday Councillor Danny Hackett delivered a great load of supplies for me and my aunt because he thinks I should not go to a supermarket for what are relatively small needs and this morning a lady I met through this blog showed up with a new supply of Tesco’s gluten free pies, breaded fish, curry and desserts. All I need now is to find a working cash machine to pay for it all.

Maybe I shouldn’t give up doing the blog after all.


20 April (Part 1) - Odd Bins

Bin collections were supposed to be back to the revised normal last week with food waste due for a restart today. In accordance with many Social Media instructions from Bexley Council I left all my bins out all week as did my neighbours in the expectation of a Saturday collection; normally Friday but there has been a bank holiday.

Early on Saturday morning a certain old lady was in trouble so I left home by car at 07:25. Two dustbin lorries were in the adjacent Abbey Road, not sure which as they were some distance away.

Upon my return I found not a single bin emptied. I asked a neighbour if he knew what was going on. He said one man walked down the road, lifted various lids and carried on. No refuse collection lorry followed.

I am not seriously inconvenienced so I won’t complain too much but I have lost count of the number of weeks missed. One neighbour had his bin missed a month ago when mine was emptied. Maybe I should join the ranks of the complainers, the situation is not at all good and it is beginning to look like incompetence.


18 April (Part 2) - One rule for them - again!

What a difference a week has made. Last weekend the government had me pretty much on side with its efforts to contain the Chinese Flu, but not any more, I think I may have lost all patience with them and find it hard to believe a word they say.

I got quite a lot of stick from the hard of thinking when I suggested that two friends who have been nowhere and seen no one for several weeks could safely travel a short distance, preferably wrapped inside a car, and meet for a cup of tea before they go totally insane. I now have the grand total of one non-advertising Twitter accounts on my block list.

That chat over a cuppa must be far safer than a supermarket queue or a jog in the park but it would seem that another symptom of COVID-19 is an addled brain.

Addled brains are apparently most commonly found in those wearing police uniforms as numerous videos from around the country will testify. Drones over lone walkers in the Dales, police inspecting shopping bags, another telling a father that his child cannot play in its own garden and a door kicked down because a man was inside watching the television all by himself.

I first came to the conclusion that some police were little better than uniformed thugs when in my late teens I acquired a Glaswegian girlfriend and sampled some of the local nightlife. In the opinion of local youngsters the worst of their school friends joined the police for a legalised punch up and they were always spoiling for a fight. Glasgow of course always had a certain reputation and I half forgot it after returning down south but the rot may well have spread in recent years. The face of thuggery and hatred can be seen in the worst Youtube and Twitter offenders

On Thursday last week police reached the pinnacle of their brain addled stupidity, at least I hope it is the pinnacle.

Cressida Dick Met. PoliceLed by Met. Commissioner Cressida Dick Westminster Bridge was lined by police vehicles with flashing blue lights and dozens if not hundreds of police officers lining the kerbs clapping in support of the staff working in the adjacent St. Thomas’ Hospital. Alongside them were hordes of the general public some with young children.

Are they all mad? The vast majority of us have hidden in our homes bearing all sorts of hardships and Cressida Dick thinks it is fine to raise two fingers in their direction. The rules do not apply to her. Some will think that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and undo some good work.

My old friend Mick Barnbrook responsible for the imprisonment of half a dozen MPs over the expenses scandal ten years ago has been roused from his generally - since the pandemic - pro-police stance and is calling for Cressida Dick’s head.

Mick received universal support from his sixteen thousand followers and the newspaper headlines this morning have taken a very similar line.

Cressida Dick may not be toast this time as she will have friends in high places and the police always rally round to support their own and maybe even promote them - see Operation Midland.

Tweet Tweet Tweet Tweet

If an unexpurgated Daniel Morgan Panel report ever gets into the public domain, Dick should be toast anyway.


18 April (Part 1) - Slashed Bonkers

The blog revisions made on Tuesday are causing errors on a massive scale because of the number of broken links and for that reason everything bar the current month is temporarily withdrawn to see if it fixes the problem. The links in April’s pages have all been corrected and will take you back to older entries which have also been checked over. It’s like a massively expanding Ponzi scheme because those too have links to even older blogs which must also be checked and so on! (It is already looking to be a near impossible task.)

If you should wonder why the site became messed up in the first place, it is because I discovered, prompted by yet another solicitor’s letter, that a small handful of pages that I thought had been deleted more than a year ago were still there. Among 40,000 files they can be hard to spot and the complainant decided against merely saying “did you know you have overlooked one”.


16 April - One rule for them

I’m still inclined to abandon Bonkers, what is the point of a website that was set up to comment on Bexley Council when there is nothing much going on to comment on, especially now that so many activities are abandoned? However rather too many people say it should carry on. But how?

More personal comment? It can’t survive on that alone but maybe a bit of dissent over this lockdown thing won’t go amiss.

Today Dominic Raab the Deputy Prime Minister is likely to announce an extension to the lockdown without holding out any prospect of relief to keep people’s hopes alive. I never thought I would say this but maybe the man who as Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute Jimmy Saville, the cops who shot Jean Charles de Menezes or (initially) battered Ian Tomlinson to death and showed his incompetence for all to see over the so called Twitter Joke Trial, has a point when he says there should be some sort of exit plan; not that we can expect him to formulate one.

Listening to too much talk radio as I have done illustrates all too clearly that it is not only businesses that are being ruined but lives too. My wider circle suffered a suicide early on and you only have to look at the total death figures to see that they are up not just for Corona related reasons; they are up because of the lockdown.

Pies Apple AppleYesterday I read through a long Twitter thread started, or maybe it was just extended, by the Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson and it showed how elderly people. especially those living on their own, are at their wit’s end and in some cases in tears as no doubt are those of all ages cooped up in flats.

There have been so called Covidiots out taking silly risks and a similar proportion of power drunk police out catching them encouraged by over-promoted Chief Constables. There has been a grave lack of common sense in some places but maybe the rules lack common sense too.

All but the most extreme Leftards were appalled by the prospect of losing the Prime Minister to the Corona virus and the worst of them claimed that every single nurse and doctor at St. Thomas’ Hospital was complicit in a massive publicity stunt, his admission and discharge being only four days apart.

Fortunately Mr. Johnson decided that the rules did not apply to him. He went to his second home and invited his girlfriend who had been living separately in South London to join him at Chequers.

Korma Rolls Fillets CurryAbsolutely right too but you and I can’t do that however sensible we are.

I have been in contact with almost no one for four weeks, one trip to Sainsbury’s two weeks ago, that is all. Vast numbers of older people are in the same position. Why can’t an old lady with a best friend living in the next street, both of them isolated for a month, have a cup of tea together?

Why can’t I visit a cousin who, like me, has not been out of his house? In his case not even once. It would be much less risky than a walk in the park.

Sausages ChickenWhy are people not allowed to drive to the nearest park? Very little can be safer than being cocooned in a tin box, certainly a lot safer than risk being puffed over by a passing jogger. How come everyone is suddenly jogging anyway?

How can it be legal to drive to a shop for essential supplies but illegal to drive there and back just for the fun of it to relieve the monotony? Deaths caused by accidents at home are more than three times higher than those on the road.

How far can I go to a shop anyway? Sainsbury’s in Abbey Wood is not too bad for Gluten Free bread, biscuits and cake but not being much of a cook I like to keep a stock of pre-prepared frozen meals too. You can’t get them in the nearest Sainsbury’s, in fact I’m not sure you can get them in any Sainsbury’s. I have always had to get mine from Tesco. If a friend who shops in Tesco picks some up for me, can I drive ten miles to pick them up?

The curries come from a shop in Pett’s Wood.

TweetThe Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has said that the full lockdown can only be exited when we have a vaccine. She’s another Covidiot isn’t she? We can’t go another year without leaving our homes. If it goes on much longer I am going to have to make another mercy dash to prevent another suicide.

If there is no hope and no future, especially for the elderly, what is the point of carrying on? Will Raab do the right thing?


14 April - Bexley-was-Bonkers

The earliest reference I can find to recognising that Bexley Council is not what it used to be was just over two years ago. There was a time when Bexley Council was unbelievably dishonest, constantly bending the law to the extent that the Chief Executive was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by the Police. The CPS apparently lost the file after twelve months of wondering what to do with it by which time the investigating police officer had retired and all enquiries fell on deaf ears.

At the lower end of the scale a Mayor told a Cabinet Member that he need not use his microphone during a Full Council meeting if he didn’t want to and thereby disabled the Hearing Loop system. When a deaf member of the public protested the Mayor told him “tough”, his deafness was his problem and not the Council’s.

A complaint to the Code of Conduct Committee went nowhere, the Mayor’s actions were condoned. Unbelievable!

There were many such things before 2015 but very few since and I cannot believe that anything like that would happen again. Webcasts, Social Media and maybe Bonkers have forced Bexley Council into cleaning up its act.

A consequence of there being no scandals to report is a drop in the number of visitors to barely 20% of the level that used to be seen regularly and almost no one bothers with links to other relevant pages. People don’t want to read about a Council that functions reasonably well.

The belief that things were much improved led to a big purge of old blogs in the Spring of 2018 and there was another in the Spring of 2019.

Bonkers is comprised of around 40,000 files and very nearly 100,000 internal links so finding and weeding stuff is no easy task. A couple of months ago I found a file that was supposed to have disappeared a year earlier and aware that it might not be the only one, the simple option was for blogs to be taken off line for a day or so. This provoked a lot of adverse comment so steps were taken to restore them progressively to a new URL, thereby defeating Google, and reviewing each as I worked through them.

More than two months later that job is not quite half done, there are just too many blogs.

The review showed a number of things; some disgraceful behaviour by certain individuals, that some stories, e.g. the obscene blog and false criminal charges brought against another local blogger, are so interwoven into many hundreds of blogs it is simply not possible to eradicate all the references. On the other hand some blogs have become so dated that they can now only be seen as irrelevant trivia and not worth retaining. However removal is not an easy option as it would cause too many error reports.

Last week I made a conference call to all those who had taken a close interest in the blog over the years to seek their opinion. Mine was that Bonkers should be closed down even though every time I publicly suggest as much I get many messages pleading for it to be kept alive. One from New York only last week. There was a range of views including using the material to write a book on how bad a Council could be but that would not be consistent with my current view that bygones should be regarded as ancient history.

Another two months work reviewing old blogs is not an attractive proposition especially when a lot of it was never going to valued again and a simpler solution has been implemented.

May 2018 is significant for two reasons. There was a new 45 Member Council instead of 63 and they have been relatively well behaved since then. The other was that Bonkers was made Mobile friendly at the very same time. Some of the earlier pages still don’t display properly on a Smartphone and it is too big a job to revise them all.

The adopted solution is to archive everything earlier that May 2018. That way all the old scandals are consigned to history and the Mobile incompatible pages go the same way. The only thing that doesn’t work for the time being are the little used backward links. Those linking back to pre-May 2018 blogs will not currently work but that is fairly easily fixed. One example appears in the first sentence above.

Linked back blogs will almost by definition not be trivia, another plus point for the new system.

I have heard of people using Bonkers for political research. Any blog can be restored on request.


12 April - Caring Council v Callous Council

Yesterday afternoon I drove to Newham to deliver the old lady supplies of food and Dettol and whatnot. Her previous delivery was on 1st April and I had not seen her since the middle of March. I debated with the sole carer whether I should go into the house and as my isolation has been somewhat extreme we agreed I should carefully go inside.

Newham CouncilNewham has six days a week Controlled Parking Zones so naturally I checked their website to see what they were doing about Parking Permits. The reassuring summary is shown alongside.

The detail is shown below and the information provided by Newham Council is both enlightened and helpful. It shows total understanding for the predicament that some of their residents will find themselves in.

Contrast that with the almost hateful attitude of Bexley’s money grabbing Council, not to mention their lying Tweets.
Newham Council Newham Council
The day time visit to East Ham wasn’t a total success and I will not be keen to do it again. The house is typical 1890s terrace. Front door and straight through the hall to a narrow kitchen and back door to the garden. Living accommodation on the right.

I dumped a whole load of food into the kitchen, the fridge and the freezer. Exchanged a few words through the open sitting room door and went into the garden to mow the lawn.

After bagging up the cuttings to go into my brown bin - Newham has no garden waste service as we in Bexley would recognise it - I found my way back into the house blocked by a centenarian standing at the back door absolutely refusing to go back inside so that I could pass by at a decent distance.

Gentle persuasion having failed there were some loud and probably harsh words involving hospitals and an agonising death. Eventually they prevailed and I took the black sack out to the car.

Unfortunately I decided to return to the back garden to water some flowers in pots and the back door blockage and stern conversation recurred. I was saved only when my aunt decided she needed to visit the toilet.

Later I tried to explain what was going on outside and switched the TV to Sky News where she read out loud the subtitles of a documentary about the Italian crisis. It must have made a small impression. She quite sensibly, in a way, said she would be best to not be in this care home any longer and would I take her back home to East Ham.


11 April - Bexley’s Kentish Belle clanger

I have very little sympathy for those who criticise the refuse collection services and the various help organisations providing food and medical supplies during this most traumatic period of our lives. The staff shortages and the need to observe the distancing recommendations will inevitably disrupt refuse collection schedules, even those made only 24 hours earlier. These guys (and gals?) deserve praise for putting their lives at additional risk for you and me.

Food and medicine deliveries must be even more difficult and an unimaginable logistical nightmare. New staff to be trained to do things that they have never done before are suddenly turned into emergency couriers delivering to previously unknown addresses. If things don’t always go quite right or as quickly as one might hope it may not be good but it is understandable and no one will be messing around for the sheer hell of it.

I am not so sure that the same can be said for a pen pusher safely cocooned in his office. How could Bexley, and only Bexley, make such a cock-up of interpreting the rules on which shops can remain open for on-line orders?
Kentish Bell Kentish Bell

Click image above to order beer.

Beer is not an essential purchase for me, I have a few bottles in my cupboard but the Best By date is 2013. I am beginning to think that getting drunk might be a good way of getting through this crisis.


10 April - No one to see but Traffic Wardens

PCN CoronaI have been told off by a few people because the last time I wandered out on foot with my camera was 13th March and they say that is taking social isolation a bit too far.

I used to do a big circle nearly every day taking in Yarnton Way and Harrow Manorway to see if the road works promised for completion by last Christmas but still somewhat behind schedule had progressed and yesterday I decided to do a mini version of that. Through my side fence on to Fendyke Road, then Florence Road, Manorside Close and the flyover footpath to the station.

Locals will know that would be quiet even in normal times. Yesterday I saw no one until I got to the flyover and by crossing the near deserted road managed to avoid getting anywhere near the two people who had alighted from a 301 bus.

However some people had been out making their fellow citizens lives a misery. Someone had been given a ticket for overstaying a one hour shopping bay. The shops are largely closed and the adjacent bays were all empty. Pointless, but Bexley Council’s priority is maintaining every possible revenue stream.

There has been a lot of talk in the media about people taking exercise who stop to rest. I can see that a well used bench may represent a small risk but it disappears to vanishing point for those who sit on the ground near nobody.

My journey was barely a mile but my out of condition legs were aching from not far beyond the half way point. If there had been a place to sit I might well have done and risked the ire of a power crazed police officer.

As it happens I passed on both the outward and return journeys a young couple in a state of partial undress sunbathing in a secluded public place. And no I am not going to tell you where they were.

When I got home I jumped on the bathroom scales out of curiosity and found I had lost eight or nine pounds. I must get out more, and perhaps get to the shop more often.

Be careful this beautiful Easter weekend. Maybe later I will see if my legs are capable of propelling me up to the Abbey, but if it looks crowded, then I am off!


9 April - Where is everyone?

I have not been beyond the garden boundary since last Friday when I felt compelled to take some emergency supplies to an elderly lady in Groombridge Close. I have not been to the 100 year old (in all but a few weeks) in East Ham since Wednesday evening a week ago creeping in with supplies at dead of night. I think she will be OK until the weekend and the drive there will be the highlight of my week.

I have had telephone reports from Barnehurst that the streets there were crowded with joggers and Facebook has had similar reports from all around the borough, hidden among the ‘have you seen my cat?’ and ‘what is that helicopter doing?’ comments. Facebook can drive sane people mad.

From home I have seen nothing like that, the place appears to be deserted so I was pleased to see that my Welling correspondent is reporting much the same.

Welling Welling WellingIt must be that Bexley residents, or at least Welling ones, are not as stupid as Facebook would have you believe.

I am tempted to walk along a hopefully deserted Fendyke Road to Abbey Wood station and back today to see if the old legs still work but maybe even that is taking your life in your hands.

One of my sister’s neighbours who walked with a frame was barged over by one of those mad shop looters and it broke her leg.

She was taken into Frimley Park Hospital (Surrey) to have the break fixed and came out feet first. Given a dose of COVID-19 while in the ward.

Maybe it would be best for those who need not go out to stay in bed and in my case wait for the Independent Councillor for Thamesmead East to deliver the next load of bits and pieces.


6 April - Who has fallen through the cracks?

HelplineI thought it might be seen as self indulgent to highlight my example of how the supermarkets are not helping as many people as they would hope and I thought hard about whether the ‘starving to death’ comment was perhaps over the top - but apparently it wasn’t.

Among the criticisms of Sainsbury’s in particular for poor stock levels another category of people in serious trouble emerges. The under 70s who are seriously disabled, some of them couples.

They can just about drag themselves to the shops in normal circumstances but are unable to stand in a long queue and certainly not when they come away with next to nothing.

Tesco in Sidcup is similarly criticised and Lidl in Footscray is recommended which is probably no good to the near housebound disabled.

There are stories of the elderly and vulnerable signed up with a myriad of on-line suppliers who have received nothing during the past two weeks and tell me how they are in serious trouble.

Neighbours? Family? I do not know, I have no addresses and there has as yet been no response to email.

As for the Heinz Ravioli etc., I was told by someone in the trade that it’s next to impossible to get hold of it anywhere.

Those who are in difficulties and getting no help really should give the Bexley Helpline a call if they have not already.

One report says that Iceland have not imposed a two item policy and another says that Sainsbury’s has abandoned the limit on non-essential items. Confirmed by their website.


5 April - It just doesn’t work

I’ve been thinking, dangerous I know, but I have come to the conclusion that the arrangements made over recent weeks by supermarkets only make sense for those shopping for themselves or for a single household. Anything out of the ordinary and they have the potential to starve people to death.

I was reading yesterday how the blind can be in serious trouble but I shall bring things closer to home on the assumption there must be thousands like me who have to shop for themselves and for someone else. Maybe a housebound 100 year old lady with no teeth.

RavioliHer diet has deteriorated to the extent it consists of 200 gramme tins (sometimes smaller) of ravioli, bolognaise, macaroni cheese and spaghetti supplemented by the occasional frozen ready meal. Cottage pie, bolognaise, lasagna, that sort of thing that requires little chewing.

For a dessert there might be a trifle or prunes and custard. Apart from that she is partial to salt & vinegar crisps, sweet jellies and swiss roll. And that is the way to live to be 100 apparently.

Before the Chinese Flu gained a foothold I would deliver four or half a dozen tins and two to four ready meals every time I went to East Ham. Some days two tins are used, one at lunch time and another in the evening. A couple of weeks ago I counted 47 tins in her cupboard but they, like toilet rolls, are vanishing at an alarming rate and I have yet to find a single replacement on a supermarket shelf, only a couple of tins of baked beans which are not her favourite.

The supermarket rules would have me queue for half an hour to get in and buy two tins, except that as yet there has never been any there.

Assuming there was I would then have to drive 28 miles to deliver provisions for one day. And do it the next day too! It’s nonsense putting me and anyone I might encounter at far greater risk than is necessary.

There must be others facing similar problems, please let me know if you are.

It’s no good suggesting on-line shopping, firstly you’d still be up against the no more than two rule and secondly the door would not be opened quickly enough or maybe not at all.

Same with the Council emergency deliveries, they are designed for people with teeth. They do not cater for those with dietary diseases either. White bread and digestive biscuits (†) have been known to put me into hospital, the last thing I would want now.

Anyone know where one can buy these tins in bulk? Maybe I should call in a favour from the Abbey Wood Traders’ Association.

† Actually it was two big Cumberland sausages served up by a friend. I stupidly forgot they would be stuffed full of wheat filler.


4 April - Stay at Home

Police TweetSo far at least the revellers who mobbed Lesnes Abbey a couple of weeks ago appear to have caught a dose of common sense. From my bedroom window this morning I have sometimes seen no one there at all and never more than one or two. However it may not have been like that last night.

There were numerous reports on the local Facebook Group and a few on Twitter that a gang of Asian youths and young men, a dozen or more of them, had arrived in four cars and moved in further up the hill with crates of beer and a barbecue.

Some people living nearby claimed to have called the police but despite the youths making a lot of noise making tracking them down easy, no police showed up.

Darwinism may be welcome but not when they pass their infections back to their elders and go shopping for more beer.

Meanwhile Abbey Road remains quiet today while loads of Facebook posts report that nearby Brampton Road is very busy. Can that be because people are fed up with the supermarket queues and are using the smaller shops?

Now it’s back to shed painting for me. Stay home, stay safe.


3 April (Part 4) - Inconvenience or death. You choose

Wittering on here for the past ten years has attracted all sorts of emails on all sorts of subjects. Today’s are all about bins or Covid-19 and the two are not unrelated. I somehow produce very little rubbish and garden waste excepted I wouldn’t much care if the collection intervals were halved. Right now recycling intervals have been temporarily halved and some people are seriously inconvenienced by it.

Today Bexley’s revised and occasionally chaotic schedule should have seen my brown, green and white lidded bins emptied. The brown garden waste was collected in the morning and the plastic etc. in the white bin went late this afternoon.

Nothing in the white lidded bin was mine. My green bin is still unemptied. I am beginning to lose count but if it doesn’t go today I think it will enter the fifth week of neglect. Fortunately it contained only a tiny bag of Cellophane packets and greasy kitchen roll but neighbours have filled it near to the brim.

Some people are already more than a little annoyed about the lack of collections and I hope they do not suffer the same problem seen in my road today. Having checked by text with a few neighbours Bexley Council appears to have picked up white lidded bins at even numbered houses only.

The other emails are far more worrying, the CV is striking very close to home with reports of middle aged healthy people laid very low and older ones in a very serious condition indeed. I know I broke the rules today by delivering vital supplies to a lady who suffers nine different underlying health conditions but part of me wishes I had not done it.

Nevertheless I urge you to bloody well not go out, people I know distantly are at death’s door.

Tomorrow is forecast to be a fine day. I can walk to the edge of Lesnes Abbey Park without using any public road. If I see it filled with merry makers tomorrow I think I might wander up to the boundary with a very long lens and take a few snaps.


3 April (Part 3) - A Councillor you can count on

Somewhat reluctantly I went to Abbey Wood’s Sainsbury’s with the old lady’s shopping list and got nearly all of it and a few extras too. Sainsbury’s had things pretty well organised but it took a lot longer to get in than last time. As far as I could see I was ninth in the car park queue, that is nine groupings rather than nine individuals but it still took 27 minutes to get in. The CV bug was being combatted by the young lady chain smoking in front of me, ironically she will get a ventilator if the need arises whereas I will not.

The queue was much longer by the time I emerged heavily loaded.

£43 later (a few bits were for me) I was on my way to Blackfen, the only excitement being provided by an off route 301 bus descending Knee Hill.

The vegetables, milk, eggs etc. together with - should I admit to this? - a bottle of plonk were safely delivered but the chocolate digestives were rejected. As a coeliac they are no good to me, any offers?

The lady was very pleased to see me once she belatedly recognised my masked face and insisted on swapping what I had taken with two frozen steaks which had apparently come from Bournemouth.

I am very grateful to Councillor Sue Gower (Conservative, Bexleyheath) who offered to do the shopping run for me but now that the immediate problem has abated will endeavour to ensure that a lady with multiple health issues is on Bexley Council’s vulnerable persons list. We must all pull together. Most people are.


3 April (Part 2) - Ridiculous

It has been reported that the roads are getting busy again and I will admit I thought the same when I had to drive to East Ham on Wednesday morning but with fewer people using public transport and care workers and those who work in boroughs more caring than Bexley all being given free parking I felt it was natural and inevitable and maybe a good thing.

But there could be another reason too. People offering urgent care to the vulnerable.

You may remember the elderly lady who lives in an L&Q house riddled with damp and the worst imaginable unprofessional repairs. When I was last there I was suffering from flu or something and she was plying me with pills while I reported that I was seriously worried by her health. I texted her the other day to see if she was OK and this morning she phoned back.

At the best of times her breathing is laboured and her hands shake and one wonders how she has survived so long but now she is confined to bed. She rang Bexley Council’s help line and - so she says - as she is not in receipt of the government’s vulnerable person letter she’s been told to go away for now at least.

I know she has no internet connection because she could no longer afford it and has been cut off in the past by her phone company for falling behind with the bill. I would have thought that she is very vulnerable but who am I to say?

Because she was refused help by Bexley Council an old friend drove up from Bournemouth yesterday with supplies. Maybe that is a reason for increasing traffic levels?

I am not sure what these supplies consisted of because there are still basics missing and I have taken a small shopping list. It would appear she has fresh meat but no vegetables or anything to drink.

I have been to a supermarket just once in the past two and a bit weeks and only because of my aunt’s insatiable appetite for toilet rolls and now I have to go again because no one is helping an old lady confined to bed without it would seem any official assistance. But she is still alive so it’s not all bad news.

Groombridge Close in case there are any Good Samaritans out there.


3 April (Part 1) - Heartless

Their communications have been somewhat chaotic but Bexley’s refuse services masterminded by Cabinet Member Peter Craske have done a sterling job in the face of much ill tempered criticism. My brown bin was emptied this morning which means that only one collection was missed and my usually almost empty green bin, now full of neighbours’ stuff, awaits a collection. It’s been waiting a month but these are exceptional times.

Cabinet Member Alex SawyerI can imagine that Cabinet Member Brad Smith (Care Homes etc.) is quietly working his backside off and maybe Philip Read (Children in Care etc.) has a major job on his hands too. But someone is badly letting the side down.

My care responsibilities in East Ham took me there last Wednesday morning. Recently I have been driving over late in the evening so that I am in contact with absolutely no one. Even by day cocooned in a car the risks are minimal, less than usual maybe because Newham Council has done the decent thing and stopped enforcing residents’ parking bay regulations.

As far as I can tell so have most London boroughs but not of course Bexley.

No one is asking - well some are! - for all the Traffic Wardens to be taken off the road, only that Bexley Council shows some compassion but instead it prefers to live up to its old Bonkers’ tag line, ‘Dishonest, Vindictive, Criminal’.

Click image for source news report,

The problem is residents’ bays; there are not only people forced to work at home who have had no need to buy a permit but there is also the question of those like myself who are having to make additional visits by car who are unable to get their hands on a Visitors’ Permit.

I have many times heard the responsible Cabinet Member say in Council that he believes that motorists are too often given a hard time but while yet more revenue raising traffic enforcement cameras are installed I have wondered about just how sincere he is with those comments.

The past week or two have given us the definitive answer. It was total BS and all that matters is money.

Inevitably Bexley Council has had to lie about it and claim that every Council in London is doing the same.


2 April - Get yer brown bins out! Confused? Join the club

As emails from Bexley Council arrive in Inboxes across the borough…

Dear Sir/Madam
We apologise that the garden waste service has had to be suspended since the 23rd March 2020 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic reducing staffing levels.
To ensure that you get a full years’ service as per the terms and conditions of the service we have added 8 weeks to your contract end date and delayed any renewal payments in line with this.
Hopefully the service will be able to resume within this 8 weeks extension but if not more time will be added to your contract as compensation.
Yours sincerely
The Garden Waste Team

… residents in dressing gowns are chasing brown bin collectors down many a street.

At just gone eight o’clock a collection truck came along the road collecting the brown/garden bins!!!
I managed to get ours and several neighbours bins out and there was a lot of calls to people further along the road warning them. Some made it but there were several who didn’t.
I spoke to one of the collectors and he said that it was only decided this morning to do the collection. We have now put every bin out (as all neighbours have done) since we have no idea what will be collected and when.


1 April - Colour confusion

BinsWhilst sympathetic to the enormous problems that have wrecked Bexley’s generally excellent refuse collection service I confess to having been totally confused at times by the plethora of occasionally contradictory - or maybe just changing over time - collection information flowing from the Council’s official Twitter feed.

Cabinet Member Peter Craske may have cleared matters up a bit for those whose green bin is due for collection this week.

It isn’t my green bin day until the 10th April so can I assume it will be blue bin day too? Not sure, but I know that will make it a whole month since the last green collection.

Do I assume that in a further two weeks time, the 24th, it will be green bin day again and it will be white bin day too? Remember that recycling has gone monthly, that is four weekly.

Is the foregoing right? Who knows? But more certainly if your green bin is due to be emptied this week put out the blue one too. Maybe we will see a similar Tweet next week.

Remember that food waste goes in the green bin. Brown bins? Forget ‘em.


News and Comment April 2020

Index: 2020

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