Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Eating at the O2 before a gig...

I was back at the O2 a short while ago for the War of the Worlds show, I couldn't help but notice how long the queues for the restaurants still were.

When I went to my first "proper" event at the O2 Arena, Andrea Bocelli, I did eat at a restaurant but only after a fairly long wait.

There were two factors with that concert though, first was that a fair number of the food places weren't yet open. The other was that the top level of seating wasn't in use and the floor was seating. So less places to eat, but less people to feed.

The War of the Worlds show seemed to be playing to a packed arena, though once again the floor was seating which will mean less people than a standing show.

I got there early because I was out and about that day so had plenty of time to mooch around and see how it was doing. A lot more places to eat are now open, but they still weren't coping at all well. There were huge queues and lots of seemingly fed up people trying to find somewhere to eat. And this was at about 5.30pm, an hour before the doors opened, two and a half hours before the show.

It's confirmed my opinion that to try and eat at the O2 before a concert is madness and something I'll never want to try again. Thankfully for this most recent visit I'd had a big lunch in town and was just after a hot dog, or two, which were in plentiful supply without an epic queue.

There's still so much room at the O2, presumably where the Super Casino was meant to go, and I wonder why they don't open more restaurants. A lot of potential trade was being lost and bad feelings generated by the lack of facilities.

As for the show itself well I thought it was great. It was a touch too loud (consider that I love seeing bands like Motorhead live when I say that), the band overpowered the singer(s) through many of the songs. It was an impressive spectacle though, the huge video screen, floating Richard Burton head and the martian walker over the stage. I'm not sure I'd want to see it again but I really enjoyed it. The LP was such a part of my childhood and it was wonderful to see it all presented in a new way.

It also got me wondering... At times it felt like watching a movie with a real orchestra providing the soundtrack. I would love to watch Star Wars like that!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Return to National Tyres and Autocare Greenwich

Back in may I had the rear tyres on my car replaced by National Tyres in Greenwich, you can read about my experience of that here.

Within the last week or so one of those tyres has kept going down leading to me doing a a few minutes on a foot pump before taking the car anywhere.

Strangely enough someone commented on my post about National Tyres a few weeks ago letting me know that the mystery guarantee meant that they would fix or replace any damaged tyres.

So I gave them a call, was told that that was indeed the case so off I went.

Then the whole Deju-Vu feeling kicked in...

I dropped off the car and was told it would take about 30 to 45 minutes. So I stroll down to Greenwich and nose around the market and some shops, which was all rather nice.

40 minutes after the drop off I call them up, it's just about to be looked at.

50 minutes after drop off I go back to them, the car's sat in the car park outside and hasn't been looked at yet.

I then sit there for another 30 minutes after which I finally get my car back.

The problem was indeed a puncture, a screw apparently. There wasn't any charge and they didn't even ask to look at my receipt.

So that side of things was good, and I feel a bit mean complaining. However given that I've had the same experience twice with completely inaccurate time frames being given out and my presence in the waiting room seemingly the trigger for the work to be done I do feel a bit fed up with them.

Presuming that the repair they did holds and the tyre doesn't let me down I can't, in all honesty, see me going back to them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Greenwich Council spend £3.2 million on publicity...

Once again Greenwich Watch has done itself proud.

Over a week ago they published a story about how Greenwich Council have increased their publicity spending by 300% in ten years.

The NewsShoper website have only now published their take on the story, you can read it here.

For Nigel, who questioned my description of Greenwich Watch as being excellent, here's another example of why I believe Greenwich Watch are doing a great job. Far from spreading "malicious, petty and outrageously partisan gossip" they got there first with the story and they got it right.

One thing that NewsShopper have revealed is the scale of the spending in Greenwich. Sure £3.2 million (yes million) sounds like an awful lot of money but it sounds even more when you read that Bexley, Bromley and Croydon combined only managed to spend around £2.5 million.

Remember that after spending £3.2 million (I'll say it again because it's such a huge number) on publicity Greenwich is the Council that is clawing back a few tens of thousands from schools that have underspent their budget.

This is basically another reason why I don't like the political situation in Greenwich. The Council will get away with this with a Spokesman also trying to claim to NewsShopper that they don't spend any more on publicity. Well maybe not compared to last year but when you're looking at a 300% increase in 10 years from the same ruling body that's stretching the truth at best and a lie at worst.

Sure an opposition Councillor is quoted as attacking the council about it but mumbling about it isn't enough. They should be out there going door to door telling the voters of Greenwich where our money is going. They should be printing leaflets and popping them into people's doors. Being in opposition isn't just about campaigning in those areas where you might win just before an election but actively challenging the ruling body all of the time.

It does actually pain me that as a life long Labour supported I'm wishing that the opposition parties were working harder to bring this Labour lead Council to account. Unfortunately Greenwich Council is rubbish and I've got to set aside my own political loyalties and be honest about it.

Finally I wonder if NewsShopper would have even carried the story had not Greenwich Watch got there first?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A kidnapping in Charlton?

I've had an email from Mel.

I was so glad to see the section about crime on your blogg - because i have been trying to get information from the met today and they do not have any information on Kidnapp in Charlton recently there was a notice board like the one you have on site it was just off Wyncliffe road do you happen to have any info on this or a photograph of the board.

That's the first I've heard of it, I've not read of it anywhere.

I sometimes use that road when I go up to the Blackheath Standard but I've not been up there for a while what with all the Christmas hurry going on. I'll try and check it out sometime soon. Does anyone else have any ideas about this?

How to dispose of your green waste in January

For a while I've been worried about how we were meant to throw away our "green" waste in January when the new rubbish collection system comes in.

I didn't want to just go throwing rotting meat and vegetables into my green bin, that would not only stink but it's got to be a health risk.

Well one part of the solution is that we're all going to get a "kitchen caddy". A green flip top plastic thing apparently. Food waste can be kept in that until we put it into the bin.

The next, and real, part was tucked away in the new issue of Greenwich Time.

Food waste can be wrapped in newspaper, kitchen towel or paper bags to soak up the moisture and absorb smells. Do not us plastic bags because they're not biodegradable and can't be composted with the food.

So it sounds like the newspaper is the one I'll be using. I'll be joining Greenwich Council in filling Greenwich Time with cr*p :)

I'm pretty sure that you can get biodegradable bin bags, I wonder what would happen if I used them? Would the bin men refuse to collect the bin? I'll have a look in the shops and see what I can get and then I'll give the Council a call to see if they're acceptable.

However the idea of using newspaper, which I'm going to recycle anyway, is very appealing if it can keep the smell and hygiene under control.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Recycling Facilities at Sainsburys

When the Greenwich Sainsburys reopened I was disappointed to note that the bins for recycling juice cartons and small electrical items had been removed (read about that here).

I also said that I had contacted Sainsburys but hadn't heard back from them. Well I chased them up again and they did indeed give me some answers, though they weren't very good ones.

Basically the managed that they're looking into replacing some of the bins at the new recycling point with carton and electrical ones. The ideas have been passed to their head office and they are "awaiting some guidance."

The reason they give for the removal of the free standing bins was that people were filling them with things that they weren't meant for and there was a lot of fly tipping around them, which they say is harder with the bins behind the locked gates. I'm not so sure about that, the last time I was there there was still a whole lot of rubbish just left there.

So basically selfish idiots who don't care how their actions impact on other people have once again lead to those of us who do try and care loosing things that we found useful.

I hope that the bins do return, or Sainsburys stop selling juice in cartons that they won't provide recycling points for and shift to plastic containers for which they do.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The "Excellent" Greenwich Watch

I received a comment the other day about a posts where I described the Greenwich Watch web site as excellent. Nigel said that GW was a one dimensional rant that mistakenly believes spreading malicious, petty and outrageously partisan gossip and sniping amounts to a noble and considered crusade against injustice.

Further more he added I had thought better of you Charlton.

So I thought that I'd say a little bit about GW and Greenwich Council.

Basically I've come to the conclusion that Greenwich Council are rubbish. They're an embarrassment to the Labour Party and I say that as a lifelong Labour supporter, well until the last election anyway.

Even without GW I've had enough personal experience with the Council to draw my own conclusions. I'll point out a few highlights:As for Greenwich Watch, well yes I do feel that they do cross the line at times and can enter rant mode.

However they also perform an absolutely invaluable service by making me aware of things that the Council are up to that otherwise I probably wouldn't know.

Let's look back at some of the highlights from GW from the last month and a bit:
  • Reporting that Peter Brooks, the deputy leader of the Council, has failed to attend any of the meetings of the London City Airport Consultative Committee for the last four years. This is even worse considering that he's actually meant to be representing the people of Thamesmead who live under the airports flight path and there's been a consultation about planned expansion to the airport.
  • Reporting that Peter Brooks, when questioned about his failure to attend the meetings, claimed that he did send apologies, despite the failure of the official minutes to show any such apologies for absence, and that there was nothing of impact to Greenwich that was to be discussed. Hello? 40,000 extra flights a year? Being the councillor for 1000s of people living about a mile from the runway?
  • Reminding us that the Council hasn't deemed it appropriate to hold a full council meeting prior to November for four months.
  • Revealing that at that meeting Chris Roberts even voted against extending it so as to be able to cover all the issues that had built up.
  • Exposing that the Council is clawing back money from schools that underspent their budget, and pointing out again that the Council saw fit to spend £90,000 on the box at the O2.
And those are the highlights from just one month. All seem to boil down to things that can't be ignored as being gossip. Did the Peter Brooks actually attend those meetings during the time there was a consultation about expanding the air port? No. Did he say that there wasn't anything of impact to Greenwich that would be discussed? Yes. Did the Council really put off holding a full meeting for four months? Yes.

Those are all things that I don't think I read from any source other than Greenwich Watch. That includes the local Tory party with, for example, Councillor Nigel Fletcher posting far more often about issues with National Government than anything local.

So that's why I think Greenwich Watch is excellent. Looking beneath the spin and bile with which they sometimes treat the Council there's cold hard facts that reinforce to me that the Council are best inept and at worst corrupt. Maybe this happens in every London Borough. However GW tell me about it.

I can even forgive some of the disdain with with Greenwich Watch treats the Council. I know a little about what they get up to and after seeing an advert on a bus boasting about the school results for the borough even I launched into a 10 minute rant to my partner about how they were spinning the truth. It's easy to get angry with the way that they are.

So anyway, I believe Greenwich Watch to be excellent and read it regularly. I can recommend it to everyone and frequently do.