Now incorporating the Sudbury Hill Times

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Park sky



The sky over King Edward VII Sports Ground, a park behind Willesden stadium.

The Guardian tracks down Salam Pax

Link

The Baghdad Blogger is going to write a fortnightly column for them. His recent observations on the post-war conditions are interesting.

Ossian

Friday, May 30, 2003

Really useful links for non-blokey people

Today, Hazchem Guide

The Herald has added another really useful link for non-blokey-bloke people, you know the ones who aren't quite as technical as the blokey-bloke people. They tend to have fairly basic needs and menial tasks to perform. Say no more. Today we bring you a handy guide to Hazchem codes. So if you see these on buildings near your house, you'll know what to fear.

WMD?

For example Willesden Police Station displays the Hazchem code "2W". The 2 indicates fine spray, and the W determines the kind of protective clothing to be worn by emergency services to deal with it in the event of accidents.

for sale

The BT telephone exchange in Harlesden Road has a Hazchem sign on the door, but no code. It is in a filthy condition. In its heyday 200 operators were employed switching calls. Now it is totally automatic and engineers have to make an appointment to get in if they need access.

[Herald links like these are thought to be useful for non-blokey people, who do not know how to save their own useful links. Ed.]

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

write This

The latest edition of writeThis.com features an interview with author and editor Richard Peabody, as well as a new short story from him. His literary magazine Gargoyle was founded in 1976 and is going strong. To quote just one sentence from the interview, "Recently we've run work by Nick Cave, Richard Hell, Ray Bradbury, Lance Olsen, Kim Addonizio, Nin Andrews, Wanda Coleman, Lidia Yuknavitch, Diane Williams, Julia Slavin and Nani Power." He also has plenty to say about writers, writing and trends.

Ossian

Faded signs on gable walls

I love the faded adverts that can be discerned on old walls. This one, for example, is partly lost but must have been for an artists' supplies shop.



Still visible are the words, Lead, Colors & Polishes, Gold Leaf and Methylated Spirit. Notice the American spelling of "colors," probably indicating it was part of the word "watercolors." They should be left to fade like ghosts from their era.

travesty

When Lula's Cafe was installed on the corner of Linacre Road, they painted garish white over the wonderfully faint trace of St Paul's Pianos, a sign that probably dated from the time of St Paul himself, who must have sojourned in Willesden for a while, selling pianos and writing letters in his spare time. No letter to Willesdonians survives.

I received a call from an inebriated woman late one night who evidently thought I was somebody else, and wouldn't listen to my protestations. I had to hang up in the end because she just kept on telling me to come down to Lula's. I've since been told I missed a trick there badly.

Report: Feargal Mooney. Pictures: Ossian Lennon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre wins the Wodehouse

Guardian

The Guardian Online has a strange little spoiler version in the style of the original. Don't read this if you're planning to read the book, and you don't want to know the ending.

Ossian

Letters

Who is this Ossian character now? He's telling me I look like Gillian Anderson! Which, of course, I aspire to, but that was only because my exhaustion yesterday added like 5 years to my countenance.

Alura Allumeuse

Monday, May 26, 2003

Kureishi accuses 'fascist' Labour

Guardian

Speaking at the Hay literary festival, Hanif Kureishi lambasted "McLabour," equating them with Adidas or any other brand. "One of the reasons we despise politicians is that we suspect they are speaking on their own behalf while purporting to speak on ours. Our words are not getting through."

It seems he has transcended the condition of the protagonist in Initimacy, who was tired of having opinions.

Ossian

Say hello to the Man Upstairs

with Fr. L.B.H.

What is this life if, full of queries,
We have no time to help our dearies?


Talking point for the week: Stealing statues

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Let me think now, where would be a good place to meet and have a coffee or a beer. Hmm..

roll on summer

The Monsoon Cafe looks okay, unless one of our local monsoons is falling at the time.



What about my favourite, Café Gigi? I'm not telling you where it is. Enough people know already.

yobs and yobettes only

I think I'll .. um .. pass on that.

see the ghost of Ossian

You might be needing the services of Dr Rash after that.

A free CD - imagine!

The Fields of Athenry (excerpt) performed by Jill Anderson. If you want to learn more about the song, which relates to the Irish potato famine, see Cantaria. There will be a free CD with the printed edition.

We're rich!!!!!!!

The National Documentation Centre, P.O. Box 1505, 19 Toryork Drive, Weston B, Ontario MPL 2Z6, Canada

The post today brought the Herald a very impressive A3 document gorgeously printed with elaborate money-like designs. Apparently we are guaranteed to receive £196,060.00 subject only that we return the FORM 1205T, (Ref Certification No. N9623980) with our credit card details for the Document Release Fee of £26. It's clearly genuine, as it has been rubber stamped and the specific details typed in red or written in what is either biro, or a marvellous labour saving printed version of biro.

Boys oh boys. Nellie's Nighspot here we come!

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Techies scratching their heads over web performance

The decrease in performance at BlogSpot has been reported and documented. We are currently investigating the problem and hope to have it resolved as soon as possible. In the meantime, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. Thanks for using BlogSpot Plus.

Famous people from Willesden, a short series: No. 1

Zadie Smith

The waitress in Coco's says Zadie is just an ordinary person. If you see her in the High Road, tell her the Herald gave her a plug. Mind you, she's disporting herself in Harvard now.

Orhan Pamuk wins with My Name is Red

Reuters

100,000 euros. That'll do nicely. (The Dublin IMPAC is one of the richest literary prizes in the world.) He beat John McGahern and Jonathan Franzen for it.

Ossian

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

News in Brief

Tripping The Light Fantastic!!

Willesden's own Cyril Ningbassa, whose dancing was once complimented as being like 'a man possessed dancing on hot coals' will be going to Memphis after all.

Cyril's trip to compete in the Michael Jackson Lookalike-A-Thon next month was thrown into doubt when his sponsors, JB Nylons of Willesden, went bankrupt. Today the Herald has learnt that a mystery benefactor has stepped forward to underwrite the cost of the trip.

Cyril is highly fancied to bring home the crown and everyone at The Willesden Herald has their fingers crossed for him.

Go Cyril! Go Cyril! Go Cyril! Go!!


(Story: Amanda Saxonheart)

___________

Fahrenheit 451 (or the smell of books cooking)


The saga of JB Nylons of Willesden continues. The shop has now ceased trading and the warehouse employing seven local people has closed. An investigation into accounting practices is in train and the accountant retained by the company is barred from practising accountancy until the investigation into his business affairs is concluded. The court ordered that he should not be named.


(Story: Amanda Saxonheart)

West Cork Literary Festival

This from Clem Cairns, Festival director.

Roddy Doyle and Jennifer Johnston are among the authors who will be giving seminars on various aspects of writing at the West Cork Literary Festival this summer.

American prize-winning short story writer David Means will host a week-long workshop on the Short Story, and Dublin Poet Tony Curtis returns to the festival to give a five day poetry workshop.

For those who always wanted to write for children, author of over 20 children's books Malachy Doyle shares his wisdom on a five-day workshop.

Award-winning crime journalist and author Paul Williams will give a seminar entitled "Putting Your Nose Where It Doesn't Belong".

Travel writer Matt Bannerman will take an overnight workshop to Cape Clear Island, where participants can enjoy the beauty of West Cork while creating a travel article.

Media guru and script doctor Eoghan Harris will share his knowledge in a seminar on Screen Writing.

There is a poetry workshop for children, free readings each day in Bantry Library by Roddy Doyle, Jennifer Johnston, David Means, Tony Curtis and others, and the launch of the Fish Anthology "Feathers and Cigarettes and Other Stories".

The festival runs from Sat 28th June to Sat 5th July, and runs alongside the West Cork Chamber Music Festival.

For full information and booking click on the website link above.

(See you there. Os.)

Ossian

Apology to our online readers

Editorial

While the printed Herald continues not only to go from strength to strength, but our online edition has had a few technical difficulties. These are known to the propellerheads as bugs (technical jargon for buggers.)

We are giving the AudioBlogger people a piece of our mind over the unseemly way that our reporters' messages are being filed, and over the lack of an edit or delete facility for them. We are giving another piece of our mind to the BlogSpot people who have let us down badly after we moved our hosting to their deluxe option, since when our pictures have been taking forever to download. Quite frankly we've told them that Fred Karno's Circus could do a better job of running a server, for God's sake throw another shovel of coal on your servers. The pictures were downloading faster last week when they were still on the my son's GameBoy machine. We are giving another piece of our mind to the Union about their unservient attitude. There's nothing else we can do for the time being as we cannot afford to lose any more pieces of our mind, there's hardly any left.

This not being able to edit and delete items almost makes our online edition unsustainable but we refuse to sink even though we are only a little skiff loaded with a thousand tons of coal.

William Hill betting slip
That's not in my job description.

Feargal (Shop Steward)

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Now hear this

Testing, testing... Ahem... Hello. This is Ed. on AudioBlagger [™ Voice Recognition].

One of my horses [backword, strikeout] investments came in today, so I was able to get us a bit more webspace for the online edition. We're sharing it with a hoity-toity [backword, backword, strikeout] literary magazine called slow wine in return for a free advert. I hope it runs a bit better than my dog did last night. I'm sure somebody nobbled it by giving it a kilo of doggy choc drops before the race.

Fair gal make sure this bulletin looks okay.

Disconnected

Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)

Common Dreams

Arundhati Roy is the author of The God of Small Things, which received a record advance for a first novel, but Sloe Wine is not made out of sour grapes.

Ossian
If your mind could do with a good blowing, open a window on writeThis.com. The latest issue includes an interview with Kenji Siratori the author of Blood Electric, as well as a new prose piece by him. By the way, see JT's post Larry reads "Blood Electric" live on TV.

Ossian

Pride of USA international

send free VW to Ossian

Please click the picture to see more clearly.

I'll be here till Kingdom come, and go



They say if you stay in one place eventually the whole world passes by.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Night falls on the Aussified high road

Ask a mini-cab driver to take you to Willesden, and you might have a problem. It's a lot easier if you just say, take me to The Spotted Dog.

the tail on the sign wags

It has three parts, all now Aussified for the large transient community from down under, 35º South, The Dog House, and the Sindrome.

pub change syndrome

The Sindrome used to be the Gaelic Bar. The Case is Altered further along the road (on the way to Willesden County Court) has been renamed Ned Kelly's.

one of the signs

The craft of signwriting is alive and well here.



Pick up LAM free London Aussie paper and others (not the Herald alas) outside the Down Under Internet Cafe. There are about six internet cafes in Willesden High Road, charging about a pound an hour. There are almost as many cheap telephone call shops, with their rates for all the strange places Willesden people phone.

More shops



I can easily think of 5 or 6 off-licences in the high road, if you don't want to go to one of the dozen or more pubs and squillion restaurants. The old Brady's off-licence used to have a counter with bars on it, like a pawnbroker's. There is a pawnbroker in the High Road too - a little treat for another day, with its traditional three brass balls.



Funny how hungry you get on the way home after 15 pints of lager. We have dozens of fried chicken, kebab, Indian, pizza, you-name-it, take aways in Willesden High Road.

<< Previous | Next >> (shops)

[Why are we doing this free advertising? Ed.]

Moran's Law of Dreams

The Herald has learned that a new law is set to join Murphy's Law and Sod's Law in the canon of metascientific legislation. Moran's Law states that dreams are only interesting to other people as long as they don't know they are dreams.

It manifests itself in the boredom of one's companions when faced with the imminent retelling of one's overnight phantasm, compared to the avidity of their interest when they think the same tale is an account of real events.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

All the fun of the fair

George Irvin's Fun Fair is in Roundwood Park. The chimes preceding announcements have been heard every five minutes all over Willesden for about a week. They sound something like fa-so-la-tee-do. So the Herald sent a team to investigate.

click to enlarge

This is a carnival with lots of white knuckle rides as well as gentle ones for the kids, and all the usual attractions.

Rock City

It must be beautiful by night.



There is a good choice of stalls, where you can try and knock something down or perform some other feat to win a toy for your admiring companion.

weapons of mass distraction

Really wanted to try this. All work and no play for the Herald investigators.



The carnivore is over.



This thing is called Sky Fire. [I am a coward. No, I mean I get travel sick, so I can't take these rides. Honest. Ossian.]



The people are the right way up at this stage.



It's nice to have a date and win a cuddly toy for a girl, or re-enact the strangulation scene from Strangers on a Train.



We made a movie of some of the scarier rides for the Herald Online. [No space on the server. Ed.]



Dusk! It's dusk now. Go to the carnival. Live it up. It is the stuff of life.

Report: Feargal Mooney. Pictures: Ossian Lennon.
"Haruki Murakami ran a jazz club in Tokyo before he was first inspired to write. A reluctant celebrity since the publication of a best-selling novel 16 years ago, his work explores themes of love and loss. His relationship with his country has been complex but, after years in exile, he has returned to live in Japan."



Marathon Man: an in-depth profile of Haruki Murakami by Richard Willaims in The Guardian.



Ossian

Friday, May 16, 2003

Letters

With reference to Mr Patrick Lynch's letter and his reference to his participation in the programme Back Door Burglars - Viral and Bacterial Conditions of the Rectum and Large Bowel which I scripted and narrated for Channel Six, Mr Lynch is fully aware that if he had made known to me that was suffering from pre-existing inflammation of his rectal lining our camera team would not have fed the ano-camera apparatus as far up his orifice as they did.

Dr Gerald Francis (ret'd)
Ed, can you delete my last post?

Mona
Oh yeah, it works!

That's very good.

Come back to bed, Cruella! Little piggy wiggy is sad without you.

Shut up! I'm on AudioBlagger [™ Voice Recognition].

Oooh you're so mean. Oooh, oooh. Aaaaaaah.

Cancel. Cancel.

Cruella, I'm leaving your fine on the dresser.

Disconnected
Hello

Just testing this AudioBlagger [™ Voice Recognition] thingy on my mobile. Now let's see...

Mona

The offensive nonsense that kids find funny these days*

 

Music -[ Throwing Rock ]- Video

 
   
NEW

Gay Bar - Electric 6

 
   
BOOM!

Watch the video NOW in Real Video | QuickTime | Windows Media: 56 100 300

by System Of A Down

 
System Of A Down

Watch an interview with System Of A Down about the video: Real Video, QuickTime, or Windows Media: 56 100 300

 


*This little item landed in my in-tray today. I needn't tell you I had an apoplexy when I saw what it was. Ed.
In this week's New Yorker Yoko Ono takes tea with John Seabrook in a cafe in Greenwich Village: Cognito. She talks about the hit dance remix of On Thin Ice, her art, the lack of protest songs, and email. Since September 11, 2001, Yoko Ono has paid for billboards advertising Peace in cities around the world, as well as a two-page advert in the New York Times. People, I have to tell you, she is now 70 (but she doesn't look it.)

Ossian
Letters

As a former patient of Dr Gerald Francis and having hosted his camera crew where by rights it ought not be possible for a camera crew to go, I would like to know what qualification he has to advise on virology (SARS and you, May 7th 2003) when his speciality was Proctology?

Still Sore, Kilburn

You must be mistaken, Dr Francis was in General Practice until he retired early due to regrettable circumstances, which are still sub-judice. Ed.
Herald signs deal with AudioBlagger™ - world exclusive

You might be wondering how we manage to bring you breaking news as it happens. It's all thanks to an amazing new system called AudioBlagger™ Voice Recognition, which allows our reporters to post stories by mobile phone from the scene. We are the first newspaper in the world to use this dynamic new system, and the only sods people in the U.K. who can make it work, due to our imaginative implementation plan. Please bear with us if you notice any little teething troubles.

We would like to draw attention to the contribution that the Herald makes to Care in the Community, and resettlement of offenders. We will keep the situation closely under review, and try to ensure that the AudioBlagger™ facility is used appropriately.
Ed

I can see your house from here.

Ossian
YES, Ossian

What is it? What is it, Ossian?!

Ed.
ED? ED?

Ossian
Yes, Ossian

What is it? What's the matter?

Ed.
Ed?

Ed? Ed? ED?

Ossian
Mona, where are you?

Yes, very good Ossian. Very, um, artistic. Yes. Any more?

Ed.
Full moon over Willesden tonight

It's me, Ossian, on AudioBlagger™. You can't kill me, you haven't got a silver bullet for your gun.

eat at Lee Ho Fook

I'm i'm o, o, ok, i'm ok, ok, I'm alright. I'm ok. I'm just staying up here for a while. You said you'd print my pictures, Ed. Ed? Ed? Are you on AudioBlagger™?

Ossian
Panic over

Dear Readers, Ossian's wonderful pictures will continue to appear. I drove a very hard bargain, but he finally agreed that he could do exactly whatever he wanted.

Ed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

For immediate release...

This from an immaculate source. Available now: Inflatable Church. Order early to avoid disappointment.
ED, TRY THIS

I can't get there for several hours, my car has broken down and I would have to use public transport. Just reassure him that nobody wants him dead, and tell him his pictures are wonderful.

Mona
Mona, Urgent!

Your mobile is off. If you see this can you get here as quickly as possible, it's an emergency. When you get here, go straight to the top floor and take the small stairway up to the viewing area. We have an issue with O. Remember what happened over the missing kitchen knife? This is worse.

Ed.
Other news organs, an occasional series

Here's a fine impartial view on American politics: f r e e   p i e. They say they are "left-leaning" but frankly I don't know what that has to do with politics. It might not be aesthetically pleasing, but I'm sure there must be some corrective surgery available for that these days, instead of just moaning about it.
Gentlemen!

Did I miss something?

Ed.

(Let's not wash our dirty linen in public.)
Ditto

If he goes, I go too.

Feargal
Dear Ed.

Fine! You can take your own pictures then, IF you have time between visits to your TURF accountant. I've worked my fingers to the bone to make this newspaper what it is. Goodbye!

Ossian Lennon
See Moorish Girl for an excellent list of U.S. literary links.

Ossian

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Spring storm hits Willesden

At 7 p.m. last night thunderclouds swept in driven by Britain's prevailing south westerlies. Forked lightning and loud thunderclaps were followed by a downpour, which turned into a torrent of wintry hailstones that briefly dappled the ground white, and piled like crushed ice on window sills and car windscreens.

click to enlarge

The shower stopped as the storm passed over, leaving rooftop aerials to gleam with droplets under the low cumulonimbus. Within an hour our sky was left with only scars of pink stratus and the streets dried as if nothing had happened, while the storm could still be seen settled on Dollis Hill and Gladstone Park blacked out in the distance.

Ossian, what has all this got to do with news? Ed.

News in brief

Police are asking for anyone with information about the sudden disappearance of a local man to come forward. Barry Barton, a Housing Benefit officer, went missing from his home in Cricklewood Boulevard sometime on Friday.

_____

JB Nylons of Willesden today announced the immediate closure of their shops due to bankruptcy.

_____

Plans for a Rastafarian cemetery in Willesden have been put on hold.

_____

The Willesden Ecumenical Council Women's Chapter will hold a lunchtime vigil for peace in Iraq and Palestine on Friday next. The vigil will be followed by what should be an interesting talk entitled Obscure References - An Homage to South Asian Cinema with particular reference to the oeuvre of Satayjit Ray. Entrance free.

_____
Letters*

The Beast of Willesden

I have recently read of the pain expressed by the good denizens of your local area - Willieburgers, apparently [Letters my be edited. Ed.] - in relation to creatures unknown raiding bird tables.

During a recent trip to the USA, I was invited to a most instructive demonstration by my colonial relatives of a squirrel-proof bird feeder. It seems my relatives' clever countrymen have come up with something both effective, educational and entertaining: The Yankee Flipper. I realise that there is some evidence for The Beast being a rodent of some description, and after extensive research have deduced that one of the most likely culprits would be the Grey Squirrel, or Sciurus carolinensis. I realise that this may be a controversial standpoint, and will be publishing my findings soon to, no doubt, the amazed gasps of the watching world.

The product alluded to above has an electrically-galvanised disk hanging underneath the main body of the bird-feeder which, when a squirrel alights, spins round and flips the fiendish culprit off into the bushes. My relatives had one, and many balmy evenings were spent with a cool and refreshing Bud Light in hand enjoying the sight of squirrels flying into bushes, walls and the road, the soft thud of enraged little bodies complimenting the sweet evensong of the neighbourhood's birds.

The promotional moving picture on the Interweb page of The Droll Yankees, purveyors of quality products to the rodentally-abused, is an amusing demonstration of the article in action: Yankee Flipper.

Of course, if your Beast turns out to be a Three-Toed Sloth, which would seem to be the other likely candidate, then it may be possible to request this product in a slightly larger size.

Good luck, and good hunting.

Justine Kilkerr

*This letter wins the second Dr Watson memorial prize of 2003 for brilliantly connecting the bird food thief with the Beast of Willesden. I will pass this tip to the inappropriate authorities. Ed.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Letters

That's Hoosier not Hosier

I was glancing through my www logs today (which I NEVER do) and saw that someone came to my site from yours yesterday. I'm not sure whether to be flattered or insulted. My blog is basically a page to entertain my friends back home, it's not meant to be profound, it's more a tracking of my moods and adventures. I don't imagine anyone other than people I know would find it interesting, or get some of the references.

curiously,
Alura Allumeuse

Feargal replies

I have pleaded with Alura not to sue us, and she has agreed to suspend legal action provided we publish her admonition and apologise abjectly, which we do. [Feargal, my office, now! Ed.]
Out and about / Sightings

Spotted! Alighting from a 260 bus arriving from Golders Green on its way to Shepherds Bush, international football agent Eric Bruxman. Could he have been here to check up on the progress of Willesden's very own Marco Fantoni who has been linked lately with Rushden and Irthlingborough Diamonds? Or was he just stopping off for a bite to eat at one of our renowned eateries?

Double take! Willesden Green's favourite son Cyril Ningbassa, the London and South-East king of Michael Jackson impersonators, hopes to meet his hero at the Michael Jackson Look-a-like-athon later this year in Memphis. Cyril's trip is to be sponsored by JB Nylons of Willesden. The best of luck to him from all here at the Herald.

Too many cooks spoil the broth(-el)! A 36 year old woman was arrested on suspicion of running a brothel when police raided an address in Cricklewood Boulevard. Present in the house when it was raided were 3 cooks from the nearby Patrick's Pies meat processing and pie preparation centre.

Overheard! As news about an alleged brothel operating in the area filtered out a local wag was heard to comment that too many cocks spoil the brothel. [That's enough vulgarity - Ed.]

Cheeted (sic)! The animal thought to be a cheetah which has been terrorising the cats and dogs in the local area for the last month was apprehended in a raid on a house in Willesden by local animal welfare officers. The officers used a stun gun and the creature was found to be a Staffordshire Bull Terrier onto which someone had zipped a cheetah costume. A local man was taken into custody and was later released on police bail. The raid followed a tip off.

Welcome! The Willesden Herald Out And About/Sightings team welcomes Amanda Saxonheart on board. Amanda has joined us from the Hendon and Colindale Free Advertiser where she covered showbiz sightings and Births, Weddings and Obituaries.

And finally...! Do you have knobbly knees? If so the organisers of this year's carnival want to hear from you. An attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the most entrants in a knobbly knee contest is in their sights. Mr C McNulty, event organiser, said this when the Herald spoke to him earlier this week "Let's put Willesden Green on the knobbly knee map of Great Britain." The event is in aid of our very own Tiddlers Appeal and will raise funds for the local Tiddlers group to renovate their hall.

Rocky Rollins
Mona replies

I was fascinated by Mr B.B's unusual plight, and not sure how to approach the problem. So I emailed his details to a few of my contacts who have some experience in the field of sexual inadequacy. By an amazing coincidence, one of them turned out to work in the same local council offices as Mr B.B. and offered to pin my email on the notice board there. My contact assured me that they would look after Mr B.B. This is why I love this job, the satisfaction of knowing that I have helped to solve people's problems at a stroke.

Send your problems to Mona Bone-Jakon at Dear Mona. Mona regrets that, due to the volume of letters received, she cannot enter into any personal correspondence.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

The Doctor Advises on....

My neighbour spies on me in the garden and I think I like it.

This week's postbag contained this dilemma from Mr B.B. (Mr B.B has asked for his full name to be withheld and, as always, we are pleased to accede to such requests.)

Dear Doctor

A most attractive lady moved to the next-door house shortly after my mother died. I am a man well past the first flush of youth but I like to think that I have kept myself presentable, and my problem is that my new neighbour also seems to think so. She has taken to appearing at the upstairs window of her rear bedroom while I am relaxing in the garden and she undresses there as if completely unaware that I can see her. She then proceeds to indulge herself in what might most delicately be described as 'tension relief'.

I have spoken to her in a purely neighbourly manner and ascertained that she is single (a divorcee) although many of her uncles visit her at all hours of the day and night, so she is not short of company. You may wonder why I should write about a very attractive lady disrobing in full view and of course I am very flattered that she should want to do so. No, my dilemma is that she has suggested that we could take it further. I think she must be badly missing conjugal relations, so badly in fact that she mentioned the sum of £80 remuneration if I would consent to indulge in 'relations' with her. How can I fulfill her need for physical communion with me without insulting her by turning down her offer to pay me £80.

Yours in confidence

Barry Barton
8, Cricklewood Boulevard
Willesden
(Please withhold my full name and address. Thanks)

______

The doctor says

Dear B.B, since this is not strictly a medical matter I have passed your letter across to my esteemed colleague, the renowned author (Crystal Healing for Pets etc) Mona Bone-Jakon.
_______

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Walter John Harmon by E. L. Doctorow.



When Betty told me she would go that night to Walter John Harmon I didn’t think I reacted. But she looked into my eyes and must have seen something—some slight loss of vitality, a moment’s dullness of expression. And she understood that for all my study and hard work the Seventh Attainment was still not mine...



The New Yorker leads into this story with a full page picture of an ethereal window above a field of long grass, La Douzième Chambre d'Amour by Bernard Faucon. You can see some of his other "chambres d'amour" here: Bernard Faucon - alcobas de amor.







Ossian
I have a bit of a problem...



with Mona Bone-Jakon

Dear Mona,

My black thigh high stockings shift drastically downward from my large, dimply thighs so that by the end of an evening, when I am most ready to reveal my hidden charms, my lovely legs, generally my best feature, appear elephantine, wrinkles, et al. I have tried various adhesives with no luck at all.

Please advise and quickly! I have a hot date tomorrow night with a new suitor.

Signed,
a Southern Belle


Mona replies

The secret of stocking adhesion was given to me by a famous supermodel, Helga Hoffenpuffen. Dispense with your present method of depilation, and get yourself one of those G-------* three blade razors. Remove the first two blades carefully and then shave your legs with the resultant implement in such a way as to leave only imperceptible stubs of the hair follicles standing proud. You will find that your stockings no longer slip. Before the night is out, your new beau will be inviting you to join him on the floor for the Tennessee Wigwam. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

*They can pay the Herald if they want an advert. Ed.

Send your problems to Mona Bone-Jakon at Dear Mona. Mona regrets that, due to the volume of letters received, she cannot enter into any personal correspondence.

Herald catches thief in the act

Stakeout pays off. Why can't the police do this?

caught grey-handed

Concerned Willieburgers (Feargal, I told you don't use that word! Ed.) citizens have been complaining about theft of bird food by non-birds. Some thought they could foil the thieves by hanging bird feeders from the middle of clothes lines. As this picture reveals, some sort of bushy-tailed creature (perhaps a rat in disguise?) is able to tightrope walk the clothes line to raid the bird food. It is thought to be too small to be the Beast of Willesden.

Friday, May 09, 2003

What's in your stars

If your birthday is today:
With the moon in Pluto, and a favourable aspect to Jupiter all the signs are that you will find your long lost pencil down the back of the sofa. On the financial scene, it looks like you're in for a bumpy ride. Hold tight, ding ding, and you'll get there in the end. With your inborn tenacity and your brilliant mind you will finally resolve issues that have been perplexing you from an early age. Lucky colour: magenta. Lucky musical instrument: swanee whistle. Most favourable number: 23.

Aries March 21-April 19
As usual the ogres in work have been giving you the screaming habdabs. But never fear you will get your own back when the business goes bankrupt and you get a nice new job, but they suffer a nervous breakdown. Your lucky Danish pastry is apricot.

Taurus April 20-May 20
The bull is feeling exceptionally randy this week. Any target will do, as long as it's mammalian and preferably breathing. But think carefully before making a pass at the boss's daughter. For one thing, you might be a woman. If you are not sure, seek help. Lucky ornaments: Wedgwood.

Gemini May 21-June 21
Never allow yourself to be cajoled into doing something you don't want to do. If cake decorating just isn't your scene, don't let your boyfriend browbeat you into doing it. If you are not a woman, the latter sentence does not apply to you. If you are in your late nineties, please send us a message from the next life, and I will report it to our readers. Lucky bloodsport: MP baiting.

Cancer June 22-July 22
What was your partner thinking when he / she insisted on getting their hair dyed? It's too late now to stop them, but consider if a Sinead O'Connor look might not be preferable. Alternatively they could dye it another colour, but be warned it often comes out purple. Your lucky dynasty this week is the Grimaldis.

Leo July 23-August 22
You have been off your food lately. Raw meat is perhaps not what you would think of, but that is what you need. If you prefer, think of it as steak tartare. Otherwise you will be saying ta-ta to this mortal coil. If you are a vegetarian, consider repenting. It's no good worrying about animal welfare, after all they'd eat us if they could. Lucky charm: anchor.

Virgo August 23-September 22
You are the best of the zodiac signs and a lovely lot of chaps (and chapesses.) You seldom, if ever, make a mistake and when you do it's one that just reflects credit on you for your insouciance or open-handedness. Most gifted of all the star signs, you are wont to write horoscopes or rise to other great heights. This week will be exceptionally trying for you as you confront the fact that most people are not neat and methodical like you, but rather a slovenly bunch of messers. Lucky colour: the colour of your eyes.

Libra September 23-October 22
A delightful surprise awaits you when you get home. If you have a cat, it may have had kittens. If a puppy, it may have actually used the newspaper you put down. If you are married, your spouse may have prepared a surprise romantic dinner for three. If you have only one day to live, you might die laughing. Try to do random acts of kindness in the high street, and see how far it gets you. You have read enough now.

Scorpio October 23 - November 21
Your car will breakdown, unless you are a bus user. It will be the camshaft or something technical like ball bearings. Alternatively if you use public transport, you should be safe enough today - no terrorist attacks are predicted. Lucky fabric: kevlar.

Sagittarius November 22-December 21
There is no easy way to put this. Simply stay in bed this week. Do not under any circumstances leave your house, or contact anybody. Remain silent until you read next week's stars, when I will give you further instructions. You have no lucky items this week.

Capricorn December 22-January 19
Nobody loves a smart-ass. Where do you get off with your fake moon landings and your la-di-da accent? Make a decision now to keep quiet and not to interfere in matters of any importance. The world is not meant for you, you are only here by mistake. Next week you might be okay again. Watch this column for further announcements. I'm not telling you what your lucky item is.

Aquarius January 20-February 18
Ryan's Fancy will come in second in the 2:30 at Newmaket. Bet all the money you can raise on it, each way. If possible, remortgage your house or embezzle the stake money in such a way that you can put it back after the race. If you win remember to send me a percentage. Lucky percentage: 51.

Pisces February 19-March 20
Brisk circuit training, jumping jacks, aerobics, swimming, weight lifting and dancing are not recommended this week. Stick to reading, knitting or cricket until Uranus passes through Jupiter. Though the tea-lady gives you the eye, remember she is your Aunt Fanny. Gold is your lucky investment this week.


Mystic Mavis
What's all the fuss about?

We've been inundated with complaints from Doc Marten wearing harridans who seem unable to appreciate our special links for women. Feargal was right, give them an inch and they'll take a yard. Ed.
Farewell to a friend and a comrade in arms - Nelson Mandela's tribute to Walter Sisulu.



"Yet a silence engulfs me, an emptiness creeps in my being. He would not want it that way."

Ossian
Ladies, don't feel left out

Today, we're introducing a range of links for women or other housebound people. Mona Bone-Jakon is still at the ready to answer your perpetual problems. No letters yet, so she is just making tea for our journalists in the meantime. Ed.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Local firm to produce U.S. president's book

Willesden printers are set to scoop the contract for President Bush's new book, "Things that have gone right since I took office," according to well-placed sources.



Acme Printworks is used to handling important goverment orders, specialising in the production of postage stamps.

Zozimus
Dear Mona

I have a bit of a problem...

 

with Mona Bone-Jakon



We are pleased to announce that counsellor Mona Bone-Jakon will be contributing a new occasional column called "I have a bit of a problem." Mona specialises in rapid solutions for problems that have proved unsusceptible to traditional methods. She is happy to tackle any of your personal problems and use her lateral thinking and innovative approaches to dispel them. Please send your questions by email to Dear Mona.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

The Doctor Advises...

SARS and you.

The Willesden Herald has had a bulging postbag in recent weeks on the subject of SARS.

Many of you have many questions. Should Chinese people be shunned? If you have Chinese neighbours should you move? Is it safe to eat pak choi and other Chinese vegetables? Is it safe to eat out at our renowned local eateries?

Let's look at these questions in detail.

 

1.

No. It is not yet necessary to shun Chinese people. Just take sensible precautions. If a Chinese person sneezes near you and you can't immediately confirm whether or not they have been in contact with an infected person or any surfaces touched by an infected person in the preceding 24 hours simply hold your breath immediately and move at least 40 yards away from the sneezing person.

 

2.

No. It is not yet necessary to move house if you have Chinese neighbours. Simply block any shared sewage pipes that are shared between the properties and keep your windows closed at all times. If you have pets ensure that they don't visit the neighbouring family.

 

3.

This is an easy one. Yes. It is perfectly safe to eat pak choi and Chinese vegetables. For the most part they are grown in Cambridgeshire and any shortfall supplies are imported from Holland.

 

4.

This is more tricky. Willesden is renowned for its eateries and the astounding quality of the cuisine, and it would be unreasonable to expect readers not to want to enjoy these facilities. On this question sensible precautions should be taken to ensure your safety. If you are planning to eat out, take food and a plate and cutlery with you and simply ask if you may disinfect and use the kitchen facilities of the establishment that you intend to eat in. Then simply cook the food you have taken with you. Cook it in your own pots and pans and afterwards destroy the pans and plates and cutlery. This should be sufficient to ensure your safety without hampering your right to enjoyment of local amenities.



Next week: The Doctor Advises....on My neighbour spies on me in the garden and I think I like it.

Doctor Gerald Francis (ret'd)
Out and about

It's been brought to my attention that the Listings Guide is being abused. Ivor Fiver and The Short Change Shamrock Band will not be appearing at Ceili on the Green as advertised. The advertisement was placed maliciously as was the announcement that the Golders Green Festival Klezmer Band would provide the entertainment at this weekend's Willesden Ecumenical Council. Apologies for the erroneous listings.

If you would like your event to appear in our Listings Guide (including Christenings, Weddings and Funerals) contact Rocky Rollins, Entertainment Editor.

______

It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of John 'Mugsy' Dando, bon viveur, raconteur and former editor of our sister paper The Willesden and Queens Park Clarion. John was a confirmed bachelor and he will be sadly missed by his former colleagues and the Willesden Lads Synchronised swimming team whom he guided to the North London championships three years running in the early 1990's. Many lads passed through John's hands and all who met him will remember their contacts with him for many years to come.

Rocky Rollins, Obituary and Birth Notices Editor.
Where did wrong we go?

You only have to look at the likes of London Blog - The Adventures of Alura Allumeuse to get an idea of the sorry state of London's young people. All night parties, DJs, cavorting, wild people from Indiana (in the hosiery trade, apparently) and not so much as a batted eyelid. Well we at the Herald are batting our eyelids, and we will not stop - ever. Ed.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Letters - world exclusive*

Dear Friends

It looks like Christo, the outrageous internationally-acclaimed wrapper, has quietly entered the neighbourhood. He is known for wrapping things like the Pont Neuf in Paris and small islands in Biscayne Bay (Miami). We thought that his latest entertainment was the erection of hundreds of oversize flags in Central Park, New York. However, from your photographs, it appears that we are wrong. It is now clear that Willesden has been his latest project all along. Why has he kept this imaginative work of art quiet? Usually his efforts are accompanied with much bru-ha-ha. Thanks to the Willesden Herald for its vigilence in the world of news.

(Name witheld by request)

*This letter wins the Dr Watson memorial prize for investigative journalism, a year's free subscription to the Willesden Herald (International) online edition. Ed.
The New Yorker: The Critics: Briefly Noted - Spring Poetry comprising succinct reviews of Poems the Size of Photographs by Les Murray, Blue Hour by Carolyn Forché, Slow Air by Robin Robertson, and Far Side of the Earth by Tom Sleigh.

Ossian

Monday, May 05, 2003

Mystery object

Our non-roving reporter was sent to document the monstrous protuberance emerging opposite Willesden Green station, the temple of thirties Metroland. He was not asked to investigate the neighbouring buildings.

what has happened to Nelly's Nightspot?

He was keen to let the readers know that all drinks are just £1.89 at Ceili on the Green. But what about the mystery object, you divvy?

Quatermass?

All he could offer was that it was a little blurred, but it appeared as if Nelly's Nightspot had developed some sort of architectural growth on top of it. Is this safe, asks the Herald?

Ever thought of a career as a non-roving reporter? Please contact me. Ed.
Letters

Dear Friends across the Big Water,

I enjoy the Willesden Herald from my perch here in Northwest Dallas. You seem to have a fine town with lots of civic minded readers interested in your community. In Dallas, most people sit home and watch t.v., although we did manage to cobble together an election and the electorate passed some municipal bonds to fill potholes and repair parks and libraries. All is not lost, although sometimes is seems that way.

My tomatoes are looking good and the bird feeder stays busy. The roses are blooming and it might rain. All good news here.

A nice shot of our Arboretum in Spring:* Click to visit our Arboretum.


Lou W
Dallas, Texas

*The picture vamoosed. Ed.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Answers

Our Public Arts and Architecture correspondent has investigated the metal structure opposite the tube station in detail and files this report:

"Y'know that thing opposite the station, you can't really tell what it is."

Ref: Reader's Letter, May 1st 2003.

I will order our non-roving reporter to add it to his list of photography assignments, after the railings scandal expose. Ed.

Letters

The Lord is my Saviour and Comforter and I pray daily for his return to Deliver us from this realm of suffering.

But what is the Man to think on his Return if he is to be confronted by that truly monstrous Cross at St Mary Magdalene. What a slap in the face it will be to Him to be confronted by that symbol of his Sufferation.

If the good Catholic folk, of which there are several, cannot grasp my meaning let me put it like this...imagine if you will that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ had been put to death in the electric chair. Would it be at all appropriate to have huge facsimiles of electric chairs adorning churches and hanging round people's necks?

When believers entered churches to worship their Lord and Creator would they expect to see an altar which consisted of an electric chair? Or in the processions of bishops and cardinals would one expect to see someone at the front of the procession bearing an electric chair on a pole?

Yours in God

Gladys Abanjo (Mrs)

We have a lot of religion in Willesden



St Andrews is a beautiful building, especially when we consider the sheltered cloisters around the back, graced with pendulous yellow laburnum today, and the community hall. The benches are a place of leisure for the local winos, where they bother nobody. A rascally individual who cannot be named, approaching the gruesome painted crucifix on the corner, was heard to exclaim, "Our Inri!" Yours truly was poleaxed with laughter at the time, partly through the influence of a sufficiency of lager. With all due respect, Jesus was only on the cross for half a day before he was taken to the tomb. Here he has to spend eternity in this lonely condition.



Opposite St Andrews stands the Islamic College for Advanced Studies. Not far down the road in Brondesbury, we have the first Islamic school in the country to receive state funding, the Islamia school. One of our many notable local people is Yusuf Islam who as Cat Stevens made some pretty fine records.



Just round the corner, the Catholics have gone for a stylistic exclamation mark, with the preposterously huge and empty cross of St Mary Magdalene. The statement is more architectural than theological. Unfortunately those biblical folk, the Philistines have recently replaced the original flat roof with a completely inappropriate pitched one that vitiates the whole design of the building. The holy hooligans park on the corners every Sunday, endangering the lives of passersby, while they prate piously inside the church.



As St Andrews has its cloisters, St Mary Magdalene has its grotto, where one can often see somebody knelt in prayer.



Near the Willesden Baptist Church a lady told me that Jesus loves me, and offered me a leaflet. I said "thank you," but instead of taking the leaflet, I asked if I could take her picture.

I cannot show all of the churches today. Another time, maybe. For example, the old Welsh Chapel near the high road was overgrown with weeds and disused. It is all clean and sparkly now, and renamed True Buddha Temple.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Who shall I say is calling?

This is the Willesden Library Centre. When it was built, legend has it that a disgruntled worker settled a dispute in an expensive manner, by filling the drains with concrete.



The centre has a cinema with reasonable prices, the Belle Vue. Gigi's bar is a great place to meet, day or night. There are jazz sessions there two nights a week, no cover charge. Exhibitions of work by local artists are usually on display in the upstairs gallery and on the walls of the main concourse, where there are occasional fairs. The library itself is a magnificent resource, arranged over two floors, with cds and videos, as well as the usual books sections and reading tables usually fully occupied by studious youngsters needing a quiet place to work. I nearly forgot the well-stocked bookshop, with its corner windows that can just be seen in the picture (above) where you can find such things as chapbooks of poems by local chaps who print books of poems.*

It's worth passing through the centre if only to see what's new on the central noticeboard, and to steal a glimpse of the leotarded, perfectly fit individuals doing aerobics, or to listen to the holy rollers whooping it up in the various rooms that are available to hire. Gigi's is a wonderfully cool oasis, which is dark enough inside that it cannot be seen into fully but spills over slightly into the concourse. However I have more or less boycotted the place since they banned all but guide dogs. Yes, I am a dog. (Did I mention that?)

By the way, it was to one of those phone booths that Osama Bin Laden made dozens of calls from his satellite phone.

*That's why they're called chapbooks. Ed.

Shops


Handier than B&Q.


What is Chinese massage, that's what the Herald wants to know.


In case the clinic doesn't work.

Cleopatra's sauna and massage
A little used zebra crossing.


Better value than Blockbusters.

(To be continued)

Next >> (shops)

Letters

We agree with Spike. War is terrible and unfair and can never be the answer to Mankind's problems. It just brings suffering. People should be kind and talk about their problems and then there would be peace.

Laura
Marion
Latasha
Dick
Harrington
Issam

Year 8 Willesden Prep.

Letters

I notice that 'Spike' (letters re Iraq) failed to give his full name and address.

I am not surprised.

His loathsome disregard for the suffering of our armed forces and their vigilance and readiness to protect, yes, even the likes of this 'Spike' from the kind of dangerous nonsense he espouses would be enough in Iraq to have him tortured in the most vile fashion imaginable.

I am very surprised that you chose to publish the letter instead of forwarding it directly to the police. And so it is with regret that I am cancelling my subscription to the Willesden Herald until such a time that you decline to print material that belongs, frankly, in a pornographer's boudoir rather than a respectable family newspaper.

A. Perleman
Letters

No doubt you will censor this letter as a mark of your complicity in the neo-imperialist adventurism that our country is now embarked on as junior partner to the USA but I really must protest at the facile chatter in your pages about memorials to the young lives casually tossed away by the military-industrial-technological complex in pursuit of global hegemony and favourable trading conditions for American capital interests and Blair Petroleum.

The best way to remember the dead is to forswear aggression and employ critical thinking when presented with the bloodlust and rhetoric of those politicians pursuing enrichment on behalf of their sponsors.

Any readers (assuming you print this) who would like to join us on Sunday at Roundwood Park for a peace vigil will be most welcome.

Spike
(Take the Wheels off the War Wagons org)

Letters

Dear Herald

In reply to the query from Mr Dulchyet I am very much in favour of the idea of a 100ft gas needle which would be permanently lit and which could easily be seen from all parts of Willesden.

It would be called the Willesden Needle Eternal Remembrance Flame and I am confident that the names of Willesden's fallen could be projected onto the flame with a holography projector. It is my understanding that 7000 names can be held on the reels of these projectors. I haven't seen yet how many of Willesden's youth died in defence of this country during the Great April Iraq War but if it was less than 7000 my vote would certainly go for the Willesden Needle scheme. The ideal site for it would be on top of the Willesden Green Tube complex.

Lastly, may God protect and cherish our young fallen. May He hold them close to His bosom and may they bask in His eternal love. Their sacrifice will never ever be forgotten and their reward will be Eternal Life in the many rooms of the mansion of Our Creator..

Yours

Simpson Milton
"But seriously" - an occasional series of articles by unknown writers

Living with the ever-present threat of terrorism


Stephen Moran


What effect have the Troubles had on you?

An American asked me that question, wondering in the midst of panic measures following the Al Qaeda attacks, what it was going to be like living with an ever-present threat of terrorism. My initial reaction was "Not much" - there has been hardly any effect on my life from the Irish Troubles.

Demos

Till this year, the only demo I had ever been on was in Dublin in 1972 a week after the shooting dead of 13 civil rights marchers by British soldiers ("Bloody Sunday.") I joined a protest march to the British Embassy. It was, of course, a very big demo and I was nowhere near the front. Some militants had come prepared and tossed a petrol bomb into the embassy, which burned down. Recently I joined another mass protest, the Stop the War demo of February 15th 2003, here in London - another once in a lifetime occasion, and just as significant. I have often thought that the Bloody Sunday shootings provided the mainspring for a conflict that was to continue for over 25 years, and now I wonder if the invasion of Iraq will not have an even more serious backlash.

Police Stops & Preventive Measures

I used to say that I had driven around London all through the attacks by the IRA and never once been stopped for questioning by police, though when I lived in Ireland I used to be stopped regularly. I have since been stopped once while driving through St James's Park, Westminster after midnight. One of the things I find worrying is that there is hardly any security at all, other than the invisible workings of the intelligence agencies. The intelligence service here is now fairly effective in preventing attacks, frequently frustrating plots by terrorists, most recently the Ricin poison making group arrested. Without their work, cities like London are completely naked to attacks by fanatics.

I was a teenager when Aer Lingus purchased two new Jumbo jets, a time when that was something noteworthy, and parked them at Dublin airport. They were worried that some terrorists would try to blow them up. One night we took a friend who was running away from home to drop him off at the airport where he was going to stay overnight. Our car was stopped on the way into the airport, and the police asked him why he was going there. This guy said, "To meet a friend." When the police asked what his friend's name was, he said "Jumbo." They were not amused.

Bombs and Backlashes

I have heard bombs go off in the distance. I heard the three pops some miles away when the bombs went off in central Dublin, killing 20 people. It was the day before a vote on the introduction of new anti-terrorist legislation, on which the parliament was split 50-50 with one more vote needed to pass the bill (setting up jury-less courts etc.) Somebody switched sides and the bill was passed. It was suspected that British Intelligence services were involved in organizing the bombing. My next door neighbour saw a body beheaded, and subsequently had a nervous breakdown.

I was in the same city block in about 1980 in London when a bomb went off in a hamburger restaurant. It had been left by the IRA in a toilet. Following a warning the place was evacuated. Around the corner where I was, we were told to keep away from the windows. We had grown used to false alarms that had been happening for weeks. It was a ploy of the terrorists to place only occasional devices and add to their economic effect by phoning multiple false warnings, which of course had to be taken seriously because of intermittent real ones.

A bomb disposal officer went in to defuse this particular device. It exploded and killed him. Everybody where I worked was shaking, because it was close to the explosion and you could feel intense fear when it went off. We didn't know at the time that somebody had been killed. After the bang, one of my colleagues came into the office where I worked, pointed at me and said, "That's your friends." I didn't say anything, but I had always opposed Sinn Fein, even arguing with them in person sometimes a little recklessly, for example when they came to our door in Dublin with their leaflets.

I heard the bang when the flyover at Staples Corner in London was blown up. It demolished a nearby B&Q hardware store too and caused months of traffic chaos while the damage was repaired. There was another bomb on the same day. After the centre of the City was devastated by a 1,000lb truck bomb, we could see the Nat West tower (the tallest building in London at the time) from where I was working. Its blinds were all flapping out of the blown windows, and it stood unused for years after. I felt another backlash when in the course of some banter about left and right wing politics, one of my colleagues gestured to the Nat West tower and said, "I suppose you approve of that?"

A bus blew up in the strand killing an IRA man carrying a bomb that went off prematurely, and seriously injuring other people. The bus was blown to bits. How anyone survived, I just don't know. It happened that one of the injured was a friend of a friend. The victim was left in a coma in hospital. Because he was Irish the tabloid newspapers assumed he must have been an accomplice and ran headlines along the lines of, "Let the Bastard Die," identifying this guy. In fact he had nothing whatsoever to do with it, just happened to be an Irish bloke on the wrong bus at the wrong time.

Big Brother and the Ring of Steel

Following the devastating truck bombs, the City "Square Mile" financial district is now surrounded by what they call the "ring of steel." There are chicanes at all entry points and police checkpoints. All cars are filmed coming and going. Additionally, because of the new Congestion Charge most of London is now observed by hundreds of cameras that take pictures of cars. Everywhere one goes in this country there are cameras following our every move. There are more here than anywhere else in the world, and they are absolutely everywhere. They have proved successful in reducing crime where they are used, so people mostly welcome them. Those who don’t, including all shades of the political spectrum are very angry about them.

All internet service providers here have to connect a special black box that copies all their messages to the intelligence service. This is part of a system called Echelon, agreed between Britain and the U.S. to help monitor electronic communications. It is said that what is illegal to do in Britain is done on behalf of the Brits by the Americans and vice versa. Now that begs a lot of questions. Do you trust them?

The Getaway

The biggest effects of the present Al Qaeda scare are just worry, insecurity and fear for the future. Soundings, particularly of mothers, reveal a general anxiety for the welfare of children and future generations. It has not gone without comment that London has been placed squarely in the bullseye of the target for the Bin Ladens of this world. Whilst I enjoy London a lot, this present uncertainty is reminding me how much I would love to be somewhere far away from here as well. No I have not been affected much but perhaps the troubles, Irish and international, have had a bit more of an effect on me than I first thought.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Letters

Dear Willesden Herald

I wonder if any thought has been given yet to the siting or design of Willesden's memorial to the local fallen who gave their lives in acts of selfless sacrifice in defence of this country in the Great April Iraq War.

Yours sincerely

Alfred Dulchyet


I am pleased to see you are taking up the issue of the Emergency Wartime Circumstances Regulations.

Being the mother of 6 children below school age I am keen to know whether the sand taken from local children's sandpits will be replaced soon, or is it still felt that there is danger of aerial bombing raids? Our favourite sandpit was dug to a depth of 35 feet to provide the sand for the sandbags for the anti-aircraft battery at Willesden Green Tube Station.

Thank you for your kind attention

Mariachi Makarios (Mrs)


Ed. replies
I am carefully noting all your points. You'll have to bear with us, as we are all complete ignorami here at the Herald.

Healing the wounds

Editorial

The Willesden Herald will shortly be launching a campaign to replace the railings and other objects removed during the war. We will be showing how areas of the capital are still badly scarred. (Hence the title of our campaign, "Healing the wounds.") Not only railings but window sill rails and other street furniture were hauled away to be turned into munitions. As with Mao's Great Leap Forward, the metal proved useless for the intended purpose and was scrapped. The Herald is calling for National Lottery funding to be allocated under the Townscape Heritage Initiative to lift this long overdue blight, not just from London, but from all over the country. Watch this space.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

May Day



Clouds of ink swirled from the pen of Heaven into the bowl of the sky.



A pear tree bent in the rushing wind.

You don't have to travel far to see the glories of nature, just look around you. (Ossian)

*April and May / Keep far from the say... Ne'er cast a clout / Till May is out... Fair words butter no parsnips... (Ed.)
Letters*

Dear Willesden Herald,

Could you please solve the mystery of the giant concrete structure recently erected opposite the station.

Yours
Richard

Ed. replies
I have asked our Public Arts and Architecture correspondent to look into it as a matter of urgency.

*This wins the Malachy Nelligan memorial prize for Real Letter Writing, a blessing for two sent out last week by Fr Horniman.

All quiet on the Willesden front

It was a slow news day today in Willesden. As far as we know, nothing at all happened until about 10:00 p.m when there was a torrential downpour just as some people were at the most distant part of their dog walking for the evening. A small dog was seen to be like a drowned rat, and its owner like a drowned bear. In spite of the pelting cataracts, the animal carried on with its scent marking and olfactory investigations. The dog, that is. Its owner let it off the leash when they were nearly home, to let it run for shelter. Unfortunately the dog had different plans and decided to go the other way. At that point a certain amount of unseemly Muttering* was noted.

*Muttering is a special language for communicating with dogs. It is similar to baby talk, but more vigorous. Ed.