Saturday, June 08, 2019

Antiques Roadshow

On a warm Sunday, walking to Morden Hall Park a National Trust property where BBC 1's Antiques Roadshow programme was taking place was a good prospect.

The Park is some 45 minutes walk away. Upon arrival, the size of the queue was initially off putting but having carried our Rembrandt copy lithograph for that length of time, perseverance was apt. 

The lithograph proved to be C19 and worth only about £100.

The Antiques Roadshow itself is brilliantly organised  with Fiona Bruce there as their supremo and of course the weather on Sunday at least locally, was perfect. 

Having forgotten to bring an iPhone or camera, returning to the park a few days later to take some photographs was apt. 

The sun unfortunately was not shining upon that day but the park was almost empty with no Antique Roadshow-type queues.

Those I chatted to in the queues on the day however, were fun and interesting. For example, one couple by coincidence have an oldest son age 41 called Edmund the name of maytrees max. Another girl much younger who said her husband unlike herself, would not have wanted to spend the day at the Show, then piped up that her oldest son age 2, was also Edmund so we all then chatted. 

We also discussed the number of people affected by mental illness - I had believed this to be about 1 in 7 of the population but the others believed the number to be nearer to 1 in 4.

As it happens, the younger lady lives round the corner from maytrees min but is about to move out of London to Colchester. Her husband and herself both work in the City but commuting from Southern East Anglia is apparently easy though not my cup of tea.

The older Lady remembered Morden Hall Park when cows grazed in the parkland and the grass was  foot high, at which point a National Trust assistant came over and said that the grass in the park was still sometimes that high. He explained that when the whole estate was given to the National Trust, there was restriction precluding the NT from charging for admission, which is why one does not have to pay to visit Morden Hall Park. 

The Antiques Roadshow was held in a part of the Park I have not been to before and was very well organised with security checks etc but also with the NT bringing around trays of drinks and ice creams to buy.

At the end I asked a security officer for the route to the nearest tram stop - Phipps Bridge - and then caught a tram back to  Dundonald Road where my two brothers had had homes for a while.

The BBC Antiques Roadshow programme from Morden Hall Park will be broadcast during 2020. However the day was so well attended and the weather so bright and sunny, that the BBC hope to be able to make 3 programmes from their day in the Park whereas 2  is apparently the norm or at least  more common.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

VCM Music Foundation and Apollo 5

The chairman of the VCM trustees, having invited me to attend a performance of the  Apollo 5 group VCM is supporting, I was pleased to accept. The performance took place at the Gresham Centre Gresham Street  EC2V 7BX in the City of London. 

Having consulted Google for the best public transport route to the Gresham Centre from Wimbledon I was surprised to see that two hours travelling time was suggested. Instead with the assistance of TfL travelling to the Gresham Centre by train to Waterloo thence by  the Drain direct to Bank, was easy, taking only about 55 minutes and avoided rush hour traffic which was all coming out of London at 6pm, rather than travelling in.

The British heritage site report about St Annes and St Agnes Church to which the Gresham Centre is the hall, states: 
St Anne and St Agnes is a small gem of a church opposite Postman's Park, rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London.
The first written record of a church here comes from 1137, and early medieval records seem to be confused over the dedication, sometimes referring to St Anne-in-the-Willows, and sometimes to St Agnes. The double-dedication became commonly used only in the 15th century. 

Fire was always a danger to medieval and Tudor buildings, and in 1548 St Anne and St Agnes was devastated by fire. It was rebuilt, and extended in 1624, but disaster struck in 1666 when the Great Fire of London almost completely destroyed the Tudor building. Only part of the 14th century survived the blaze. Sir Christopher Wren built a new church in 1680, incorporating what was left of the tower. Unusually for a Wren church, the design was based on a Greek cross, and the main material was red brick rather than stone. The ceiling is beautifully decorated, contrasting with dark oak furniture. 

John Wesley preached here twice, and famous people who lived in the parish include the poet John Milton and the author John Bunyan. 

St Anne and St Agnes was badly damaged by German bombs on 29-30 1940, and only reopened in 1966, when it served as a Lutheran church for the Latvian and Estonian communities in London. The interior is a mix of styles, with some features copied from the pre-war building, and other fittings brought to the church from other London churches not rebuilt after the war. 

The Lutheran congregation moved to a new church in 2013, and the church is now home to the Gresham School of vocal excellence, run by the Voces Cantabiles Music charity to promote vocal music, particularly amongst young people. The Gresham Centre does not post opening times on their website, unfortunately, but if you're interested in seeing the rebuilt Wren interiors, why not just knock on the door during business hours!
The Gresham Centre is excellent and there were some 50 or 60 guests. Apollo 5 are a group of 5 young singers who sang old and new, classical and folk songs from their new CD "Radiant Dawn", almost continuously for over an hour, including for example "Scarborough Fair"

Certainly my own voice not that I have much singing talent, would have croaked after twenty minutes:


After the concert the singers mingled with the audience and fresh fruit was served with champagne. 

A  most interesting musical evening for which many thanks for the invitation to attend, to Roy Blackwell and  to his wife Jennifer. It was also good to be introduced to Chris Wardle of the VCM foundation and to learn of the large number of concerts given and being planned for Apollo5 around the world - I am sure that they will thrive.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Jury Service

Despite this blog post's title and the fact of spending some 4 days in Kingston Crown Court's jury waiting room, actual  service  as a juror in fact passed me by though as the post below signifies there was an unusual event nearby.

Notwithstanding the above paragraph, the court staff are to be commended for their support for jurors. The very large waiting room itself was comfortable with eg ample books, jigsaws and other puzzles provided for those waiting, along with airport lounge type TV screens detailing the progress of trials in the  dozen or so court rooms below (the jury room was on the third floor).

Added to all this, there was a special jurors' dining room with a decent lunch provided from a menu, at the daily £5.71p jurors' subsistence  allowance.

It was good too, meeting  the son in law of old  Wimbledon  friends of ours who had also been summoned  to attend for the week. In fact he was empanelled early on and was relieved that the trial was only scheduled for a few days as he did not wish to lose too much time from work.

On  the Thursday the court clerk signified that a group including myself would be empanelled as jury for a new trial scheduled to start that day. However workmen  then found what turned out to be an unexploded WWII bomb, on a nearby building site. The adjacent University of Kingston buildings were evacuated though despite watching the drama unfold from the court's third floor windows, no evacuation order was issued to the Crown Court.

A twin engined German Dornier Do 17 bomber, used by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, drops bombs during a raid

Possibly by coincidence but possibly not, the defendant in the case for which we were due to be empanelled changed his plea to "guilty" so we were all discharged from further service.

Overall the arrangements were excellent and presumably the system is cost efficient for government although the amount that is spent on criminal legal services is huge.

It was good too lunching with other prospective jurors one of whom it turned out came from Dublin like mrs maytrees.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Hitting 70 (years)

The arrival of one's 70th birthday seems to take so little time after leaving school at 18.

However family was keen to ensure that the event was celebrated in style, so there was supper  on the day, with  and  prepared by, maytrees min for mrs maytrees, maytrees min and myself.   

This was followed later in the week by a birthday lunch at the home of maytrees ma, who prepared the meal with family assistance, her husband and our two grandchildren  and attended by maytrees min and ourselves.

Another birthday party is scheduled by maytrees max upon his next sojourn from Jersey, in a couple of weeks. 

Maytrees mi is in New Zealand.

Grand daughter Emma produced the following birthday card:

Which really says it all, except that she probably drew the hair the colour it ought to be rather than the grey it is.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Wimbledon Village Market

The daily papers and radio news appear to concentrate so much on bad news, of which tragically there is no shortage, that much  potential  news that is good, excellent even, is omitted. 

Thus   tragedies in Libya  and Africa, the issues giving rise to "MeToo", the trade wars between the USA and China, Boco Haram/ISIS and more locally, Brexit vs Remain, are reported often several times a day yet news of  small but significant improvements or interests in people's lives make no headlines.

A month or so ago, whilst taking a  sunny Sunday  mid morning walk through Wimbledon Village I came across a new market, in the  large car park of the local doctors' surgery. There had been no advance publicity of its opening so far as I knew yet the market was packed  with people, who presumably like myself had only discovered the interesting place,  by chance.

The stalls included butchers, bakers, fishmongers, though   no candle stick makers  at least not yet. 

I assume that the doctors make a few pounds  from letting out their car park on Sunday which of course is a time when their surgery is closed. 

In any event many of the stall holders appear to have come from London's Borough Market although more recently, the market is being described as "Wimbledon Village Farmers' Market" as on the sign:

Since its opening early last month the market has settled down somewhat. 

My main criticism is that of space - there really needs to be a larger area although moving the market to nearby Wimbledon Common would not be wise as regular  market trading sessions on that site could detract from the open space and beauty of the Common. 

The new market is a little cramped though  makes  an interesting and different development within the Village centre and long may that continue. 

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Football Crazy Football Mad

The original Wimbledon FC's success against Liverpool in the FA Cup final was  on the 14th May 1988.  Local friends who like myself decided to take sons and daughters to the final, hired a coach for the trip to Wembley.  Maytrees max accompanied me age 11 

A fairly subdued journey to the ground ensued added to which the coach driver made plain that beer was not permitted to be drunk on the journey. 

The quality of football at Wembley  was not brilliant and as one might have expected there were rather more Liverpool FC fans than  fans for Wimbledon but to the surprise of all, Wimbledon scored the goal which won the match. 

The return journey by the same coach was of course far livelier than the outward travel had been, especially as the driver made plain that though beer was banned there was no restriction on Champagne.

Subsequently Wimbledon FC became AFC Wimbledon which club was founded with the assistance of  two or three people who had been on our 1988 coach trip to the FA cup final. AFC Wimbledon had to restart its playing fortunes at the foot of the Southern league. 

Also ran were MK Dons, which after a couple of years conceded that the FA cup should be displayed at the AFC Wimbledon ground rather than that of MK Dons as that club had by then moved to Milton Keynes.

In the years which followed, AFC Wimbledon were promoted up the football divisions until they reached Division 1, though MK Dons passed them on the way down to Division 2. 

In the season just ended,  AFC Wimbledon, which had been languishing at the foot of the Division 1 table, managed to escape relegation by drawing their last match of the season. Their 0-0 draw, resulted in the club having  the same number of points but a better goal difference by 3 goals after 46 matches, than the team immediately below them, Plymouth Argyle,  which therefore was relegated.  AFC Wimbledon remained - just - in Division 1. 

Meanwhile MK Dons again during their final match, was promoted from Division 2 also to Division 1,  so football during the 2019/2020 season, could be interesting.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

UK Politics in April 2019

Many news reports, rather sadly but particularly on the BBC suggest that UK is a laughing stock internationally about the long delayed attempts to leave the EU ie to achieve Brexit.

If the news reports are true then those reporting the news have clearly no idea of the meaning of true humour.

The relevant history of Brexit is that some  three years ago the UK was asked to vote in a referendum, on the questions of whether the country should remain in the EU or leave. The answer was a smallish but clear majority to leave since when, politicians of all parties have argued about whether leave means half remain or fully out or whether there should be another referendum as the voters must have got it wrong first time round.

There are even some politicians who suggest that there should not have been a referendum on the subject at all as the public was too naive to make a decision on such an important point.

In fact the debates both within and without parliament about the EU and the UK's involvement with  and/or its withdrawal from it have been hugely interesting and largely peaceful. 

Possibly some EU countries that receive billions of Euros in aid from Brussels know that they could not afford to leave and anyway their peoples would be likely to vote essentially for the money. Others have their own internal problems which take priority over any  EU membership issues, for example Spain which has yet another general election looming with Catalunya seeking independence, for which some politicians there are being tried as criminals. 

Perhaps France with its yellow vest movement still so active, has enough on its plate for now in any event. German politics too appears to be in a state of increasing flux and the Italians still have their own problems so a referendum  about the EU was probably only practicable for the UK to consider at this time. If the UK referendum and its outcome are really making this country an international laughing stock, then sadly countries elsewhere must be losing their understanding of the comic, or the sad or the tragic but most of all of real democracy.

In other words whether the UK actually quits the EU or not, surely the huge debates that are taking place are  healthy positive signs of democracy at work rather than laughable? 

Possibly the laughing stock reports are caused by the majority of newspapers in the UK being in favour of Remain, coupled with so much of what used to be British business, now being foreign owned often by the same countries which also own so much of the British press. 

For example, the strongly remain  Financial Times is Japanese owned, with such owners (though I do not know whether such if in fact motivates the FT owners) naturally seeking free trade within the EU?

People complain that the Brexit parties misled the voters prior to the referendum in 2016 or that they spent too much money on the leave campaign. This ignores the huge publicity supporting Remain which included a pamphlet delivered to every household,  not to mention vast amounts of advertising by businesses wishing to Remain, where the costs of such advertising  were and are not apparently  government limited at all. 

Add to the above, the EU publicity even now given to Remain, the basis for those not wishing to leave the EU,  and/or seeking a second referendum is quite transparent.

Nigel Farage is not my cup of tea at all but although I voted Remain in the original referendum, true democracy now in my humble opinion, warrants a vote for his Brexit party should EU elections actually take place next month.

Antiques Roadshow

On a warm Sunday, walking to Morden Hall Park a National Trust property where BBC 1's Antiques Roadshow programme was taking place was a...