Update: Lane Ashfeldt's take on judging this year's competition: The Willesden Prize, Stories and Tunnels _______ This is the...
Friday, June 27, 2003
Thursday, June 26, 2003
To show that we mean business, we will prevent this organ from going to press for ten days, or until such time as our demands are met. What did you think, we were on holiday? C.R.A.P. doesn't take holidays.
C.R.A.P. is anonymous
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
I have the new edition already, which features a new short story by Garrison Keiller, a great favourite. The story's not so hot, but it is funny. I'll put up the link as soon as it comes online. The story is a framework for a lot of Agony Aunt questions and answers.
Monday, June 23, 2003
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Sadly, this is all that's left of the delightfully named, "Mr Fruiti & daughters." More shops.
The ghosts were out on Willesden High Road.
<< Previous | Next >> (shops)
Saturday, June 21, 2003
Thursday, June 19, 2003
with Simon Moribund
In the twilight world of the computer programmer, it is safest to assume that whatever you hear means the opposite of what it sounds like. For example, programmers' time is measured in Software Mean Time which does not actually mean time at all. Here is a handy list of translations for some common programmers' phrases:
I have finished
I have started
There are a few little problems
The whole design was wrong and the system has to be completely rewritten
It never works when anybody is looking
I have never tested it before
There are bound to be a few teething troubles
We will complete the work on-site, after installation
I never drink at lunchtime
I drink all night, get in late and so have to skip lunch
A day and a bit
About one week
Thirty days or so
Three days at the most
Could you please check the connection at the back of your machine
Do something while I try to control a hysterical fit of laughter
When was your last backup?
I have some bad news for you
We cannot replicate the fault
Your system is obsolete
I'm talking to an idiot here, right?
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
The reason that everyone who investigates their roots comes up with some royal connection is that we are all descended from the same people. Look at it this way: go back generation by generation; each person has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents etc. The "problem" is that with only a few more generations you get numbers turning into zillions - more than the total number of people who ever lived. The reason why there were not really zillions of ancestors is that we share our ancestors with other people.
When we step back through the generations, we find that there were less and less people alive, not more. Now of the people who were alive in the past, say in Europe around 1400, about 20% of them have no living descendants. Of the other 80% every person alive in Europe today shares one of them as an ancestor. In other words everyone in Europe today shares a common ancestor who lived in 1400.
Okay, regress further back. According to The Royal We by Steve Olson, writing in the Atlantic Monthly of May 2002:
"... the most recent common ancestor of all six billion people on earth today probably lived just a couple of thousand years ago. And not long before that the majority of the people on the planet were the direct ancestors of everyone alive today. Confucius, Nefertiti, and just about any other ancient historical figure who was even moderately prolific must today be counted among everyone's ancestors."
There is another interesting implication, referred to at the end of the article. If we look forward in time, it will be the case that at some time in the distant future every one of us will either have no descendants at all, or else will be an ancestor of every single person born.
If you find this hard to believe, you will have to disprove the maths of Joseph Chang, a statistician at Yale University. These are his findings, and as the article says, "The mathematics of our ancestry is exceedingly complex."
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
I sent that boy of mine out to hock the cd player, and what does he do? Only exchanges it for a handful of magic beans! Magic beans, for feck sake! I gave him a clip round the ear and chucked them out the door. I mean I heard of magic mushrooms, but this beats all. Magic feckin beans!
Well, I came out this morning and these ruddy great triffids have grown in a crack beside the wall of our driveway. They're about seven foot tall and there's no sign of them stopping yet.
I don't think they're beanstalks with giants' castles on top though, I'm more concerned that they might be triffids. I wonder if the expert in our captive audience is able to identify these prodigious wild flowers. Are they escaped (pardon the expression) hollyhocks, or what?
I can't make up my mind if I prefer the pink flowers or the white ones. All in all, I'm glad I didn't pull up those weeds from beside the driveway wall when they first popped up, looking like rhubarb leaves. The triffids are not the only plants in my garden that found there own way here.
I suppose they're like refugees coming to live in my little fiefdom. See, some dreary people will scrape or poison all the weeds from their paths, and they will never know the joy of these concrete flowers. How could anybody look into those day's eyes and do them any mischief?
Lazy Gardener, Mapesbury
Name and address supplied
Friday, June 13, 2003
It is well known that the crime rate has been rising by about 5% per year for a hundred years. As a result there exists a state of approximately 100% crime at this present day. In effect everybody in this country is in the process of committing a crime all of the time.
You might wonder how it is possible for normal life to continue when everyone is in the process of committing a crime. The reason becomes clear when long crimes such as parking illegally all day, or watching television without a licence, say, are taken into account. More villainous offences can be "long crimes" too, such as persistent jaywalking or driving an unroadworthy car.
In short, normal life proceeds without any apparent difficulty but all the while every citizen in the land is in breach of some regulation or another. That is to say nothing of felons imported into the country, usually by unlawful means, who only add to the number of criminals walking our streets.
The police are fully occupied with writing up details of crimes reported to them. In fact they might just as well try, as children do on beaches, to empty the sea by taking buckets of water (without a licence) and emptying them into holes made in the sand (without planning permission.)
At the same time it has been well documented that large numbers of apparently innocent people have been incarcerated illegally - another crime - before being released and colluding in extorting money from the government to compensate them for what they never did, and for their illegal sojourn at the expense of the state.
It has often been observed that legalising this, that and everything would reduce the crime rate to zero at a stroke. Right - but wrong. Simple - but complicated. Effective - but ineffective. True - but false. No right-minded person would want to legalise murder, parking on yellow lines, being without visible means of support, rape, begging, armed robbery, tv licence evasion etc etc.
The solution is as sensible as its "legalise everything" counterpart is ludicrous. When you hear it you will say, "But we knew all along; it was so simple." Ladies and Gents, I propose that the entire citizenry of the country be sentenced to indefinite imprisonment without trial, and simply allow them all out on parole.
It is self-evident that nobody can ever prove they are innocent of everything; therefore they must be guilty of something at all times. The Good Book itself testifies that even a newborn baby when it shows its offensive face to the world, is already guilty. You needn't trouble yourself worrying about the expense of it; rather the savings will be enormous. Since they are so proven guilty by this ineluctable logic, there will be no further need for courts, lawyers, or any laws at all.
Only politicians and officers of the state will be excused from the new dispensation. Such worthies have to be exempt from the rule in order to enforce it. However, citizens who prove well behaved over a significant number of years, may hope to be promoted to absolute freedom, i.e, State Employment.
I. Draper (Rev.)
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Lisa Golabek was born in Austria and came to London with the Kindertransport. She was cared for with other refugee children in a house in Willesden Lane. Her moving story is told in The Children of Willesden Lane by her daughter, Mona Golabek.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
A few days ago The Herald published a snippet of a poem written by our very own Showbiz Editor, Rocky Rollins. We received this letter as a result and we are happy to accede to Marganita's request.
Dear Willesden Herald
I am doing a Year 12 project on the poetry of Rockwell Rollins at the American School in Holland Park and on the Number 260 bus from Shepherds Bush to Golders Green I found an issue of your newspaper which contained part of his poem Your Huddled Kisses, Yearning To Kiss Good (The New Kissalossus). The poem is learnt by all American girls travelling in Europe. I wonder if it would be possible for The Herald to print the full version.
I never dreamed that Mr Rollins would now be a showbiz editor on an international news digest.
Yours in Americanhood
Marganita Ben Sherman
P.S The statue is very lovely.
The New Kissalossus (Your Huddled Kisses, Yearning To Kiss Good)
(after Emma Lazarus)
Not like the lovemaking of Greek fame
(Ouch) with stretched limbs astride me from thigh to thigh;
Here amid priapic secretions that smell of the sea is the cry
Of American women who yearn to be lit by a good kisser's flame
In the imprisonment of arms; and her name...
Mother of Kiss-Seekers. From her red-lipped mouth
Glows welcome; her hot eyes command in London, north and south,
The passion that twin conjoined lips should frame:
"Keep, British boys, your slack lipped kiss!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your hot, your dry,
Your cuddled kisses, I'm yearning to be kissed good, it's free.
Not your wretched slobber, I can take no more, don't try.
Send me your kissers, your good kissers, send these kissers,
lip-glossed, to me. I lift my arms beneath the golden tree.
Rockwell (Rocky) Rollins
Monday, June 09, 2003
The dimbos on the BBC and everywhere else in the media have missed the obvious choice for the date of the Euro referendum. The Herald is predicting that the Euro referendum will be held on the same day as the next General Election. This has two benefits for the pro-Euro campaign: (1) It associates the No campaign directly with the unpopular Tory party, and (2) It enables the electorate to vote No if they want to and still re-elect Labour. Remember, you heard it first here, in the International Willesden Herald.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
It was good kite-flying weather today in Willesden. Well, the wind was high, anyway. You wouldn't think it to look at this picture, but it was blustery.
If anything it was perhaps a bit too much for the enthusiasts, causing them to have a hard time controlling their kites.
The water lilies were out. You probably won't want to wait half an hour to download this movie (QuickTime, 10mb) of the willow tree above them swaying in the wind.
If I'd noticed this before, I would have asked Alura at the party last night* why there is a statue of her in Roundwood Park.
*To celebrate a book publishing contract for a novel by London's next Zadie Smith
Not sure what happened with the Campaign to Restore Abused Privacy, but they seem to have disappeared again, thank God.
Saturday, June 07, 2003
a statement from the Campaign to Restore Abused Privacy
C.R.A.P. has seized control of new messages on the Willesden Herald's website. We want readers to know that an innocent man's life and career has been ruined by the indiscretion of the Willesden editor's organ. Mr Barton specifically stated that his name and address was not for publication, and yet Dr Gerald Francis's article and Ms Bone-Jakon's actions as detailed in her reply, have combined to force
Unfortunately due to the bizarre and incompetent way the Herald's website is programmed, it is not possible to change messages because they are posted by wire. But we demand a full written apology and significant compensation for Mr Barton. Otherwise we will keep this site closed to your journalists and we will also be instructing counsel, the very learned and respected Prof. Lord Skyddmark q.c. to commence proceedings for libel.
Friday, June 06, 2003
Thursday, June 05, 2003
You pathetic little man. I will write a story that
This is Ed on AudioBlagger [ Voice Recognition]. The herald cannot be silenced. Whoever is responsible for this hacking will be persecuted. Investigations are already underwear, and you might be surprised to know who we think is
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Monday, June 02, 2003
Oh, very funny. The scourge of graffiti has hit the Herald online background again. Could these whizkids not be helping the computing industry in this country instead of hacking into community websites such as this?
Sunday, June 01, 2003
In this special report we reveal the mish-mash of breeze blocks, picket fences and gaps that still stands in place of the stripped ironwork in London today. Examples can be found throughout the city and country, but here we concentrate on our neighbouring district of Queens Park, a designated Conservation Area.
The Queens Park estate was planned and built by a Victorian philanthropic society about 1875, to provide decent accomodation for workers who were crowding into city slums as the industrial revolution gathered pace.
They specified the best modern amenities at the time, superb craftsmanship and decoration, with wide thoroughfares arranged in grids like planned cities such as New York, a grid of avenues, numbered First through Sixth, and streets labelled A to O. The London A to Z lists fourteen First Avenues, by the way. Queens Park is in W10, City of Westminster. The streets were subsequently given names starting with the letters A to P, drawn from those who were instrumental in their building: Alperton, Barfett, Caird, Droop, Enbrook, Farrant, Galton, Huxley, Ilbert, Kilravock, Lothrop, Marne, Oliphant and Peach.
Apparently there was never a J Street. Farrant Street and Peach Street no longer exist (though there is a new Peach Road nearby). Maybe Farrant was where the park is south of Ilbert Street in the picture above, I don't know, but looking at a map and the sequence of street names, it looks a likely position for it. Peach Street was demolished by a 500 pound German bomb dropped by parachute. I don't know how many people were killed but it left a big crater and the whole street was demolished. Debris from the blast was blown into the air and landed as far away as our own dear Willesden where "it fell among people coming out of a cinema." (What cinema, readers?)**
This is what the ironwork should look like. It is thought that the exercise of removing the ironwork was largely for propaganda purposes to raise morale by giving blitzed Londoners the impression that they were contributing to the war effort, and so minimise despair or revolt. Aluminium and some other metals were in short supply, so some pots and pans collected would have been recycled, but cast iron was secretly ferried down the Thames and dumped, so much of it that it became a hazard to shipping. Ref: London's Lost Railings in WW2.
Above is an example of the mish-mash of fencing that has replaced the railings. You can see where the cill guards are missing too.
This charming fellow would not be able to sit where he is on the window cill if the cill guard hadn't been removed. Note the missing railings.
Some houses were stripped bare, and still stand as they were left. The first houses on the streets seem to have been more completely denuded than the more far-flung, some of which appear to retain one or two original cills (not sure, maybe restored.)
Some of the cill guards have been replaced or partially replaced. It is a very expensive exercise, and your non-roving reporter could never afford it when he lived in a beautiful two-up-two-down not dissimilar to one of these.
Here you can see the worst and best that can be done with the old buildings. The corner house has inappropriate aluminium casement windows. The house on the right has been fully restored with authentic sliding sash windows retained, and all the ironwork replaced.
And what a corner house! The corner houses on Fifth Avenue have turrets! There are many surprising details on the estate. You will see masterpieces of ornamental brickwork, plaques and other things I'm too lazy to find the names of (architraves?) if you get a chance to visit the area.
At the end of this picture down Caird Street, look closely at the terrace across the T-junction with Third Avenue. There is a gothic arch between two houses there.
The availability of grants has not resolved this problem. People still cannot afford the work, or would rather put breeze blocks and picket fences in place of the missing ironwork. The National Lottery could afford to do this, and would it not be a very good use at least comparable to funding of museums and sports facilities?
An enquiry to them produced an application pack and details of the Townscape Heritage Initiative, which would be the way to go about this project. They don't initiate projects, but provide support and funding to local bodies, so Westminster City Council might be expected to organise this for Queens Park. But it would make more sense for the Mayor of London, currently a Mr. Ken Livingstone of Cricklewood (shouting distance from where this article is being typed) to take a leading role, as all London boroughs must be affected.
Come on National Lottery and Mayor Livingstone, help us put back the ironwork! It would boost everybody's morale again to put the railings back. This is not the vain sort of cosmetic surgery, this is the kind that is indicated for the alleviation of disfigurement. The Luftwaffe did not do this, it was a homemade bout of self-harm. The Herald has done its bit by highlighting the issue, now it's up to you to do something about it.***
We wrote to Ken Livingstone and received a response from an assistant stating that the work was outside of the mayor's remit. Eventually we wrote to Westminster City Council with our suggestion for a Townscape Heritage Fund project and received this letter from David Clegg, Head of Design and Conservation (North) in response.
Report by Feargal Mooney. Photos by Ossian Lennon
* This revised version was posted in September 2006. Thanks to Mr S W Lane for corrections. (Ref: Letter from Mr S W Lane)
** John Hyde writes from Torrox Costa, Spain: "Could it have been the Palace or Odeon in Chamberlayne Rd?" (Ref: Letter from John Hyde)
*** Thanks to Queens Park Library, Fourth Avenue, for permission to photograph pages from the Westminster City Council Queens Park Estate Design Guide pamphlet (1995.)
[I sent a link to the Willesden Herald to email@example.com - the email address of Jeremy Vine, the presenter of the Politics Show - a couple of weeks ago while listening to his radio program. Ed.]