Sunday, September 30, 2007

Alarm Update

OK the alarm's still going off. Great.

The noise team did actually call me back but were about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

They said they believed that the house was owned by a housing association called Simba Homes, they didn't have an emergency contact number though so couldn't do anything more.

A quick Google search brought up a Simba Homes based in Artillery Place just around the corner, no phone number though.

All the Council said that I could do would be to call them back tomorrow.

Alarms and noisy neighbours

It's not been a good few days.

There's been a burglar alarm going off in my road since Friday. On Friday I thought that it was coming from somewhere distant, it wasn't until Saturday Morning as I went out that I realised it was from the boarded up house.

Saturday evening I came home and passed the house again, it was still going off. So I called the Council's Noise Line.

I was put through to some sort of call centre and told that I would be called back in 10 to 15 minutes, I was doubtful, but they did deliver, well in part.

While waiting I read the Council's page on Burglar alarms, you can read that here.

Well when they called me I was firstly told that the "noise team" was more of a noise person and that no one could be sent out to witness the alarm going off.

"So what can I do?" I asked, call back Sunday after 1pm I was told.

Now on the web site it says When the noise team receives a complaint of a burglar alarm sounding, it tries to contact the keyholders. So I asked about that. I was told that the Council don't have a list of keyholders but that the police do. So that part of the page was nonsense.

They wouldn't contact the police for me either but said it was a good idea when I offered to.

So I call the police. It turns out that they don't have a list and will only attend a property when it looks like there's been a break in, which wasn't the case at the boarded up house. They said that the Council do have the list of keyholders for alarmed properties.

So I phone the noise individual back. She seemed surprised that the police didn't have a list of keyholders and again confirmed that they didn't. Apparently they haven't implemented the piece of legislation that says that they should, I need to try and find out if that's compulsory for a local authority.

I let her know that the web page was nonsense and completely inaccurate, she said she'd raise it with her management and it would be updated within a week. I'll be keeping an eye on that.... She says that all I can do is to call back at 1pm on Sunday.

So the alarm continues to sound all night through to Sunday morning. Thankfully I can't hear it from my bedroom only from my lounge, I pity those that are closer to it.

Anyway skip to Sunday... The alarm's still going off, my call goes to the call centre thingy and I wait for the team to call me back. Half an hour later I'm still waiting, I've got things to do so I've got to go out. Hopefully they'll get back to me at some point today...

To cap all this off my neighbours downstairs have woken me both Friday and Saturday nights by coming in and playing loud music. Friday it was 1.30am and Saturday it was 2.15am. I had to stamp on the floor a few times to get them to turn it down, even then it went to the level that I could still hear the bass tapping away and I just couldn't get back to sleep. After an hour last night I gave up and watched TV until 4am (with headphones!) and then finally managed to pass out.

I need to say something, but it's not easy. It's much easier to tackle something like the Council where it's impersonal.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Council's advertising for the O2...

I got an email the other day from the Council...

Catch Motown star Kiki Dee live in concert at Greenwich's indigO2 on 2 October for just £5.

The 1960s singer, who sang the hit 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart', is heading a fabulous line-up of new talent.

To book your tickets call the indigO2 ticket hotline on 0844 844 0002; or book online at or

Find out about all the other great events taking place in Greenwich by using our new what's on calendar at:

My first reaction was that the O2 was short of people again and that the Council had been drafted in to provide some bums on seats. Another example of the Council being given scraps by the O2 when it suited them.

However that's not quite the case.

The £5 tickets are available to anyone not just Greenwich residents, it's no special discount or offer that they're telling us about.

Instead the council are now using their email e-alert system, that we pay for with our Council Tax, to provide advertising for the O2.

Someone might argue back that the Council are just informing us about an event in the borough, which is kind of true but it's not an event the council or local residents have any special part in.

I hope that this isn't the start of a trend and I hope that the Council got paid for the service, well with something other than free tickets for some councillors anyway.

Bombs in Charlton

A bomb from WW2 was found the other day in Charlton, it was apparently just behind Matalan. You can read about it here.

Also this week another bomb was found in St Pauls Cray (map, it was just sitting in a copse of trees.

That got me thinking about what it would have been like here during the war. I've done some shallow research on it in the past and it is quite interesting, and it explains the nasty state of Charlton Station too.

As best as I can understand the land between Woolwich Road and the river used to be mainly industrial, as such it was a target for bombing by the Germans. Location wise this area also would have suffered because it was near the docks, night bombing was never very accurate and the river would be followed for navigation.

Later still when the V1 flying bombs, Doodlebugs, started coming over the SE of London suffered again. There was a very cunning plan to use German spies who were actually working for us to decrease the accuracy of the things. The spies would radio Germany with reports on where the bombs were coming down and they'd exaggerate saying that they flew over London and hit to the NW of the city. So the Germans reduced the flying time of the bombs, which made them come down early, to the SE of the city. Hello Charlton...

In particular the station was hit by one of those things. Well I believe that it was one of those things, some claim that it was a V2 that did it but most reports have it as a V1. Apparently it blew the station apart damaging the shop that was next to it. It seems that it wasn't until the 1960's that the current monstrosity was built, I wonder what they did in the years in between...

There's a run of newer houses to the south of the station. When I first found out about the bomb hit I wondered if they were replacements for older houses that were damaged in the strike. I don't think that's the case though. Charlton Station used to have goods facilities, a set of sidings to the north of the station. They were taken away in the 60s, leaving the hole for the news homes.

However as you do go walking around the area you will occasionally see a run of older houses and then suddenly in the middle something much newer, I often wonder if that is the real sign of bomb damage from the war.

There's plenty of information out there on the net, some photos too, if you're interested. Here's some places to start:
Some old photos of Charlton, it includes one of the damaged station and another of the Siemens cable factory that was another local bomb victim during the war (a V2 I think).
More information about Charlton Station than you can shake a stick at. However it does get it's V1s and V2s confused giving a much higher speed to the V1 than it was capable of. The V1 was the noisy slow one that flew like a plane.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Charlton Take Away, Indian and Bangladeshi

It's the Mobo awards down at the O2 and there's football on the tele, so I did neither and stayed at home with a curry and a rather nice pint of beer.

Years ago when I moved here a friend, who used to live close by, told me about a take away that was meant to be very good. It was the Charlton Take Away in Wellington Gardens that she was talking about. I took a look at it and decided, for some reason, that it looked a bit dodgy and never went there.

A couple of weeks ago they popped a new menu through my door, so I thought I really should give them a go. Tonight was the night.

I popped around there and ordered a Chicken Jalfrezzi with a garlic naan and pilau rice.

The Jalfrezzi was nice, better than average I'd say. However it was in a really thick sauce, which struck me as being a bit odd somehow. Tasty, but not tasty. Just thick.

The rice was unfortunately rather bland, it looked like it had been bleached with the colours in it faded.

The naan was good though.

I'm probably making it all sound worse than it was, it was good. It wasn't badly priced either, all that I had came to £9.

In the end I didn't think that it was as nice as The Coriander though. However the Coriander is a touch more expensive and I can walk to the Charlton Take Away to collect my order myself, swings and round-a-bouts.

I'm also left wondering if the foil tins, as used by the Charlton Take Away, are any more environmentally friendly than the plastic pots used by the Coriander. Does anyone know?

A final conclusion? A wavering thumb that's hedging towards pointing up enough for me to want to try them again some time.

Greenwich Primary Schools top the London league...

...for truancy.

After the spin that the Council put on the GCSE results in the Time magazine I wonder how they're going to handle this.

News Shopper reports that Greenwich has the highest level of primary school truancy in London and the second highest in the country (3 times the national average). For secondary school we're the second highest in London.

Let's just boil down the article to a couple of figures for the autumn term.

Compared to the 2005 autumn term the 2006 one saw an increase of 1.3% in primary school truancy and 3% in secondary (those secondary school kids must be pipped at not being as bad as their primary school counterparts but they're pulling their socks up!).

What was Greenwich's response to the figures.

"School attendance figures are rising across the borough."

Erm, no they're not. Maybe the spring and summer terms of 2007 (the 2006 academic year) were really bad and they've dropped since then.

Sadly the Department for Children, Schools and Families (formerly the DfES) are stopping collecting and publishing those truancy statistics. Autumn 2006 is the last set they'll publish.

If all you heard from the Council was "school attendance figures are rising" you'd think things were great, it's only when you hear that we were the worst in London that you begin to worry. I get a nasty feeling it's going to become so much easier for the Council to hide the true scale of the problem.

I'm confident that we'll see the local opposition parties taking the Council to task over this...

If you want to see some figures about how Greenwich really does in terms of education compared to the rest of the country then look here for some nice easy to read sets of figures.

For example it's dead easy to tell that in 2006 Greenwich was 6% points behind the London average for literacy at age 11.

Greenwich Council make a lot of noise about how education is getting better here, but don't let that blind you from the fact that we're still below average. (I'll put that in bold as it's the important point from all of this)

One final thing, how are the Council treating the teachers they're relying on to improve things? Well I do know that they used to pay them early in December to help them out over the expensive Christmas period, as do many other companies. They're not going to anymore though, they've got to wait until the end of December. I wonder if other Council staff and Councillors have the same treatment...

Prezzo, the return...

A while ago I went to the Prezzo Restaurant by the Odeon Cinema at the Millennium Retail Park, read about that visit here.

Tonight I went back to give it another try and both of us thought that the meals were better. I had cray fish tails with spaghetti (Spaghetii con Mazzancolle) and my companion had fusilli with bacon and chicken (Fusilli alla Rusticana).

I'll keep this brief, if you want the full details then do read about my first visit as linked to above. Basically the service was very good and both main courses were filling and tasty.

So I think it's two thumbs up from us.

Once again it was quiet though, the cinema was too, I hope it can stay above water. It's nice to have a third option besides Nandos and Pizza Hut.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Activity at the boarded up house...

There's a house near me that's been boarded up for months, ever since it was attacked for the second time by a group of "lads".

I walked past it earlier and there were signs of activity, the door had been opened. So I'm presuming that something's going on there now.

Which is good, an empty house isn't any good for anybody.

I do wonder what's going on there though. A friend asked me about it a while ago, I think he was pondering doing a buy to let thing with it, and I had to say I had no idea about it's situation. As an aside I'm not sure where I stand on the buy-to-let thing, while we need rental homes it does drive up property prices something silly.

I'm hoping that it is going to be fixed up and that we'll get some nice people in there.

By "nice" what I mean is just some people who want to live around here and will give a damn about the street. People who will give just a bit of TLC to the house. Then hopefully some of that will rub off on the area, each small candle lights a corner of the dark and all that.

Also it will just be so nice to walk past a home rather than a boarded up shell.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More people provided to the O2

As reported and well commented upon by The Last Bus Home the Council are offering 1000 free tickets for Greenwich Card holders to go and watch the Turbo Tennis at the O2 tomorrow.

So basically the show didn't sell out, by a lot. The maximum capacity of the arena is 20000, there'll be less than that because the centre area will be used by the tennis.

So what are the O2 to do? It sounds like there might even be TV cameras there. The O2 can't look empty! That would be disastrous. So they get the Council to provide 1000 extra people to help fill the holes, oh and to spend some money at the food & drink stands too. It'll also be fairly discrete too, it's all done via email rather than some bigger and more public offer in the media's eye.

This isn't the first time that the Council has happily served up locals to help the O2 out, oh no, it seems that the 500 half King Tut tickets had the same motivation. Read about that here.

Thinking of those tickets doesn't the 1000 free ones for the tennis make 500 half price ones (for those who jumped through some really high hoops) seem really pathetic.


I guess in the end getting free tickets is indeed a good thing, if I were free tomorrow I might have gone. However there's an unpleasant and growing taste in my mouth that rather than us benefiting from hard bargaining by the Council and a grateful O2 for their support we're being served up to the O2 as and when they need us, and entirely on their own terms.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cleansweep have done a clean sweep!

Well at some point today the sofa that was dumped in the street has been removed. The pile of carpet that it was sitting on seemed to have been taken yesterday.

So a big pat on the back for Cleansweep. I was told it would be done within three days and it was, hurrah!

Greenwich Time's take on the exam results

Well the council haven't managed to shift the sofa from the road or offer easy to get hold of cheap tickets for the King tut exhibition but they have been hard at it and got another issue of Greenwich Time out.

I'm sure there's a few great Greenwich Councilisms in there but what jumped out right away where the exam results that they published.

For the A-Levels they give an average for "Greenwich Borough", one for "National" and a row that compares Greenwich to that national.

Basically on A-Levels Greenwich did OK. The A to E pass rate is above the national average and has gone up this year compared to last. The more important A to C pass rate went up but only by less than half of the rise experienced nationally. The result of that being that we were 6.8% below the national average but we're now 7.7% below.

All told not bad though.

The GSCS results are printed a bit differently. There's no "National" row and no simple +/- figure for how far above or below that average we are. What there is, rather confusingly, is a row labelled "LA Average". I'm taking that to mean "Local Authority Average" and it seems to calculate out.

So why so open with the A Level results and so weasely with the GCSE ones?

Could it be to do with the big "Star Pupils" headline boast? Lot's of talk about how great Greenwich is doing compared to last year. They're quite proud to say that the increase in A to C grades was 3.7%, 6 times the national average.

However what they won't do is talk about how the grades themselves, not the increase, compare to the national average.

So how did we really do?

Well that doesn't seem to be a simple question. I can't seem to find a simple figure for the national average of kids getting 5 A to C grades. What I can find is the tougher average of those kids getting 5 A to Cs including English and maths, that's the standard Government measure now.

Greenwich Time doesn't use that measure, the measure that you'll see printed just about everywhere else. So why's that then? Why not use the the apparently standard measure? Why not let us easily see how we compare to the rest of the country? Is everything not quite so rosy if you do?

I've have found the official results for Greenwich, it's here.

The National Average for kids getting 5 A to Cs including English and Maths is 45.8%.

The Greenwich Average is 31.4% (see that here).

Looking back and comparing Greenwich Results with the national average also shows up a few interesting things.

2006: National 45.3%, Greenwich 31.3%
2005: National 44.3%, Greenwich 34%
2004: National 42.6%, Greenwich 29.5%
2003: National 41.9%, Greenwich 26.2%

So yes Greenwich is getting better compared to 2003 but we're way below average, not that you'd know it from the figures the council give you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Someone got tickets for King Tut

Pat's emailed me again confirming that she did manage to get half price tickets for the King Tut exhibition. She had a bit of a story to tell too:

Good news is, I got two tickets. Had to jump through hoops to get them though and was 20 minutes late back to work, oops!
Complete shambles at the Dome with all being told to queue at one window and despite the precise timing on the email it did not open until the natives began to get very restless. I wasn't the only one there that was stressing about having to get back to work. It appeared that there was going to be some rather more important visitors to the area and they wanted a captive but disgruntled looking crowd for their press photo's.

Got home to find that I'd been sent an email to congratulate me on being one of the first 500 applicants.....timed at 10.30 this morning. We can't all sit in front of a computer all day in case Greenwich decide to respond!

The bit about them wanting a captive crowd is interesting, today's the day the Led Zeppelin concert was announced and it'll be at the O2. Maybe there was some announcement thing going on there and the management at the O2 didn't want the place to appear to be empty, which I'm pretty sure that it would be most lunchtimes.

That really would explain the very tight and silly time window, they wanted to overlap with whatever they had in mind.

It would also explain the rush, the gig might only have been confirmed the other day. Also remember that the exhibition doesn't open until November, over a month and a half away, if there was no other motive behind the half price tickets then they had plenty of time.

Over 120,000 tickets have already been sold for the exhibition (well so say the organisers). 500 half price ones is a tiny amount and a small price for them to pay in order to get some decent photos for whatever they were up to.

And what of Greenwich Council's role in this? They like to talk up about how great AEG have been and how "together" they've been a part of revitalising the O2/Dome.

It's beginning to look like the Council has been used and residents made to jump through hoops just for some PR exercise. Aren't Greenwich meant to be serving their residents rather than serving them up on a plate to big business? You would have thought that they could at least have haggled and got the tickets for free.


Still I'm sure the exhibition is going to be great, I'll definitely be going at some point.

Oh and the sofa and carpet are (or were) still out in the street. I'm really not in too great a mood with the powers that be right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Charlton's fly tipping is going up market!

I'm sure that there's some ancient tradition or charter that says that a London street must have a mattress dumped somewhere along it. Charlton's following on with it's take on Parisian pavement culture with a similar move to take the street rubbish up market too.

A sofa has appeared dumped on Floyd Road.

There's a bit more to this... At some point over the last week a load of carpet appeared there, I presume that someone's having some fitted. The binmen appear to have refused to take it, which is pretty understandable in my opinion. The sofa is now parked on top of the carpet.

I've got no idea if the same selfish idiots that dumped the carpet on the street are responsible for the sofa or if someone is trying to make someone else look guilty.

I have been proactive about this and contacted Cleansweep, the Council service that deals with this sort of thing. Fingers crossed it'll be dealt with soon, I really would like to be able to say something nice about the council after quite a few negative posts about them.

I do wonder what state it's going to be in in the morning...

Update on the King Tut Tickets

I've heard from Pat who's emailed the address given in the email from Greenwich Council.

There's been no reply, so what's Pat to do? Turn up and hope that he's within the first 500 that emailed and potentially waste a lunch hour?

If anyone has had any sort of response I'd really appreciate it if they can let me know...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Half price Tutankhamun tickets

Greenwich Council return with another cracking offer for Greenwich Card holders (cough).

GreenwichCard has teamed up with The O2 to offer GreenwichCard holders an exclusive opportunity to buy half price tickets for the opening week.

The first 500 cardholders to email will receive half price tickets when they bring their card to The O2 box office on Wednesday 12 September at 1pm. You must arrive no later than 1.30pm in order to purchase your half price tickets.

Full price adult tickets cost £15 and entry for children is £7.50.

Restrictions apply:
1) offer only good for opening week tickets for valid GCH carriers
2) offer cannot be combined with any other offer
3) only cardholders that have RSVP'd for the offer and arrive in person on 12 September between 1pm and 1.30pm are eligible.

For more information visit

OK so you've got two days notice to hit a half hour window at the O2.

Who exactly is this offer aimed at? Surely I'm not alone in thinking that you've got to jump through some real hoops to get this deal. I'm sure that many people won't be able to get to the O2 to claim it.

The exhibition doesn't open until November, you'd have thought that either some more notice or a bigger time slot could have been arranged.

Anyhow if you can jump those hoops that the Council have put up then get down to the O2 and get some of those cheap tickets.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Well Hall Pleasaunce

As I've already said I tried to go to Eltham Palace yesterday. Well to be precise I did go to Eltham Palace, it just wasn't open.

So I made a plan B and got back on the road. Plan B required the locating and purchasing of some food, so we stopped on the way from Eltham to the A2 when we saw a Co-Op.

Over the road was a little park that looked interesting, it was Well Hall Pleasaunce and it was very interesting.

There used to be a manor house there that was home to the daughter of Thomas Moore amongst others. Later still E. Nesbit, the author of the Railway Children amongst others, lived in a house built on the site of the manor house.

That later house has now been demolished as well. What's left however is a rather interesting moat and next to is a barn that dates back to the 16th Century. The barn is now apparently a pub and while we were there a Wedding was going on. The park around the barn and moat all seemed rather attractive and pleasant to be in while we had our lunch.

We only had time for a brief stop as Plan B needed seeing to but I think we'll go back with a proper picnic and explore the place properly.

The park apparently has an active group of supporters, they have a web site here that has some more information about the park and what they do.

My camera decided that it's batteries were flat but I did manage to get a couple of photos out of it.

All things told a very pleasant surprise.

The gardens where we had our lunch.
The 16th Century Barn.

Eltham Palace... closed on Saturdays.

I know that now. I didn't know it when I went there today.

The opening hours are:

1 Apr-31 Oct
10am-5pm Mon, Tue, Wed, & Sun.

1 Nov-23 Dec
11am-4pm Mon, Tue, Wed, & Sun.

Closed 24 Dec-2 Feb

3 Feb-20 Mar
11am-4pm Mon, Tue, Wed, & Sun.

However I did find a nice surprise not too far away, more on that later.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Council are now selling tickets to see Prince...

I think that most people know that the Council spent about £95,000 on having a corporate box at the O2 for one year.

About a month ago the council ran a competition to win tickets in the box to see a Prince concert. Only Greenwich Card holders could enter and I mused at the time they were trying to get more people to buy a card to offset the extravagance of the box.

Well they've taken another step now, they're actually selling tickets for the corporate box.

This is the announcement:

GreenwichCard is offering you an exclusive chance to see Prince perform at his sold-out concert on 16 September.

Fifteen tickets for prime seats in the Council's box are available for £31.20 per ticket. There will be a maximum of two tickets per person.

For your chance to snap up your tickets, simply email indicating how many you would like to buy and your GreenwichCard number before noon on Monday 10 September. The lucky winners will be contacted by 5pm that day.

Find out more about GreenwichCard offers by following the link below:

On the one hand surely it's a good thing that they're making some money out of the box that they spent so much of our council tax on.

On the other is it legal? Remember that the Council has already got and paid for these seats.

I also can't help but wonder what happened to the tickets for all the other nights...

You'll also note that the offer is more than a bit weird. There's 15 tickets on offer and you can apply for a maximum of 2 tickets. So are they expecting someone to go on their own? On the web page they refer to the "lucky seven people", 7*2 = 14, doesn't it?

Does anyone out there know how many seats the box has? I wonder who's going to be in the other ones.

If anyone does get tickets and go please let me know who was in there with you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Taking a step into the Daily Mail Zone...

...which is a bit like the Twilight Zone, only far scarier.

It seems all quiet in Charlton at the moment. I've had a bit of a break and not a lot seems to be happening right now. So, as happens at times like this, my mind turns to bigger things.

I was talking recently with some friends who are teachers within Greenwich. It turns out they've had a training course and in it were advised to refer to Britain and not Great Britain when talking about our country.


Great Britain is the name of our country, it says so on our passports, so it must be true. They're going to be misleading and misinforming a whole generation of Greenwich children. What are they going to think when they see a passport or "team GB" at some sporting event?

Great doesn't imply anything to do with us claiming that we're fab or anything, even the French call us "Grande-Bretagne". It's got a lot more to do with our size as the largest part of the British Isles and Brittany in France, England's rulers became French speaking after 1066 and needed to differentiate between the two bits on either side of the channel.

To take my final step into the Daily Mail Zone, it's "political correctness gone mad"!

I'm hoping something more Charlton related will pop up soon.....