Monday, 29 December 2008

killing on our doorstep

As you will have gathered by now I go to conflict zones and those countries emerging from conflict as part of my job. I am off to Congo in January, where literally millions have died in the last 5 years in a conflict that turns children into soldiers. And rapists. And eventually casualties.

But this post is about the shooting that took place on Loftus Road a few days ago. Carried out on a 20 year old by suspects reported to be younger. By what warped route have we arrived at the situation in this country, where by comparison we want for nothing , and where our own children take each others lives?

Charlton v QPR

some pics (and even a video or two) from the recent game at the Valley. QPR really are the most frustrating team to watch. If they really think they can make the play offs they had better rediscover how to defend. Charlton, a team fighting relegation, avoided defeat fro the first time in months by coming back from behind. Twice.

I didnt bother going to Loftus Road for the Watford game after seeing this, and looking at the eventual scoreline (0-0) I am very glad not to have parted with my cash. Must do better.[gallery]

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Skating on slush

Could we not do better than this?!

My favourite friends, the rats of the Green, will be thanking their lucky stars at this hand out from the gods. Fast food left overs by the bag load littering the green and getting them through those cold winter months. All of which wouldnt be so bad if the Green was made some kind of winter wonderland for ushumans.

But instead we have something that reminds me of this Lapland place that was closed down recently[gallery]

after the parents of weeping children threatened to kill the proprietors!

The key attraction has to be this "ice rink" - covered in at least a cm of water. Do you need water skis to use it?!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Back from the Bush to the Bush

some highlights from Liberia west africa where I was involved in organising a peace festival in the capital Monrovia before spending a week in the bush gathering personal testimonies from conflict survivors, women and peacebuilders

More detail on my experiences here


Thursday, 11 December 2008


Idyllic views as I sit here tapping from my balcony - well of the sunset silhouetting a palm tree anyway. Apart from that its pretty ugly looking out on a dirt street in central Monrovia, with grinding poverty all around. We are surrounded by razor wire, a wall and guards while the house next to us is a shattered building destroyed by the war - and yet even in that shell on every floor there are families living in squalor.

And what have I been complaining about all day? our air conditioning is broken and we’re all sweating like pigs. it shows even here we rich types still struggle to get a sense of perspective sometimes.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Hello from Africa!

that was close.

Having almost been turned away from the gate in Brussels where the flight had already boarded and the shuttle bus had gone I am now tapping in the early hours from our flat in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

You immediately see the impact of conflict. Our flat is surrounded by a walled compound, topped by razor wire. We also have heavy iron doors that we lock and bolt behind our front door.

Armed men are a very normal sight here but despite all that we’re quite safe. I was picked up in the jeep we’ll be using which is a 4X4 donated by the UN to us and basically we drive everywhere with a local driver. Even just to the shops

Weather here is very hot but with insanely violent thunderstorms the like of which I dont think you can imagine until you see them. The sky gets lit up and stays lit up, the thunder is immense and the short bursts of rain are extreme!

And then the sun comes out!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Culture of peace

Can't sleep. Its the morning of the flight and this always happens! Anyway here is a look at what I'm going to be up to for at least some of my time away in Africa.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Radio silence?

I am shortly off to spend most of December in a different Bush - rural Africa in a war torn country that has experienced the worst humanity has to offer.

I'll miss our Bush but of course the real reason for that is the people I leave behind. Not the weather mind, its very hot & humid where I'm going.

So for now dear reader goodbye - be back in W12 just before Xmas. Have a good one.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Wormwood Scrubs Up


I should have been a tabloid editor with my pemchant for bad headlines.

Anyway pics this time from a bike ride I was recently on across Wormwood Scrubs, from the back of Queen Charlotte's Hospital to the other side of East Acton (far end of Wulfstan Road). Its really peaceful, there are some great views across NW London and even a nature reserve for local birds! All for free!

Well recommended for some thinking space. Enjoy.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Hostile environment course

I promised pictures .. here they are. I hope to god never to have to use what I learnt on my travels but it is good to know just in case.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

roll back or throwback?

 [polldaddy poll=1143981]

Having sat in the car park that is shepherds bush green too many times to ever bother again I’m in two minds over today’s announcement that the Western Extension of the C-Charge is going.

On the one hand Ken imposed it against the manifest majority wishes of west Londoners, revealed by even his biased consultation, which has been a hallmark of TfL. (A strange decision from a man that used to rail against rigged elections when Labour didn’t select him as candidate – against the wishes of most Labour Party members)

But on the other, when do we depart from majority rule in favour of breaking some egg shells in favour of the environment? And when is that justified?

I was in Kathmandu, Nepal, seven weeks ago. The air pollution there has to be experienced to be believed. The air is basically corrupt – so full of grit, smoke and chemicals that you choke. Even if you’re Nepali. And cut the smug feelings guys because at the present rate that’s where we’re headed.

Ken gambled that he could stick two fingers up at West Londoners and paid for it with his job. He now cuts a very sad figure still turning up at City Hall for meetings, as if he can somehow guarantee his election that way next time round. Boris has been politically very clever in doing this early in his term. No-one will remember it come election time. But does that make it right?


Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Hostile environment emergency first aid update

I am now nearing the end of my course here in darkest Hampshire, in preparation for going to some volatile parts of the world that suffer from armed conflict. I have just done a day's splinting, evacuating, bandaging, hostage taking and negotiating checkpoint training all complete with Royal Marine instructors toting Kalashnikovs and using fake blood. Out of my comfort zone? Just a bit...and PHOTOS TO FOLLOW!!!

Burger King: have it our way

burgerkingcupholder1I am rarely lost for words as those who know me will testify (usually in annoyance) but this little exchange left me speechless. Other than to observe that BK and Westfield clearly think that residents matter very very little indeed.

This is from

We asked Burger King when they would be opening, why they had chosen to open up in Westfield and whether they would be doing anything to ensure litter from takeaway packaging did not become an issue.

A Burger King spokesperson said: “Burger King is the home of the quality burger where customers can choose to ‘Have it 100% Your Way’. We offer customers a wide range of menu options and passionately care about what goes into those menu choices.

Monday, 24 November 2008

"Fun" in the snow

I'm just off to get a train from Waterloo to a remote outback part of Hampshire, where I will be on a "hostile environment and emergency first aid" training course, mostly outside. Its a course that aid workers and humanitarian/relief/development NGOs send their staff on before they go to dicey parts of the world.

Apparently there's liberal use of "pyrotechnics" and "real life scenes" (fake blood) to make it all, well, real.

And when have I been lucky enough to go on it? Yes, thats right, the coldest spell of the year thus far!

Sunday, 23 November 2008



Season's Greetings! In less than two weeks I will be in West Africa enduring 35 degree heat so I probably enjoyed this more than most of you..

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Catch up Labour!

Let's be straight about this - I am a Labour Party member. Or at least I was until the incompetent membership department said I had missed a payment. The only problem with that was that I paid direct debit. And my bank confirmed they had taken my money. Less said about that the better.

Anyway this is the website of Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Party and it is pretty poor - months out of date in fact. As you will see from the post about Shepherds Bush tube being out of action.

This is a knife edge borough and they need to scrap for every vote - shouldn't they at least update their own site?! Scrutiny of the Tories follows...


Shepherd's Bush is one of the most diverse areas of London, and therefore the UK. And by 'diversity' we usually mean a range of ethnic backgrounds, my own family's for example is mixed.

But the publication this week of the BNP's membership list showed us two things. Firstly that their membership is tiny, which most people would see as reassuring. Secondly however, quite a few of them seem to have a W12 postcode, which is perhaps less so.

But should we be worried? The Bush has never to my knowledge experienced race related conflict, of the kind I was hearing about ona  recent peacebuilding event I took part in 2 weeks ago in Bradford West Yorkshire. And the only time you ever see big blokes in boots stomping down the road its either 11th November remembrance or Millwall fans on derby day (I still thank the day they were relegated having seen them attempt to tear up Loftus Road and then marched in columns to the tube by riot police down Uxbridge Road)

But what do you think? And have sales of bomber jackets in Shepherd's Bush Market been kept going by these people?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Ginglik: what's the real story?

You might have read about Ginglik's campaign to save itself from being inundated with concrete as H&F council fill the subterrenean cavern up for good. Ginglik, which I didnt realise until recently, is a comedy and music club that is not so much on the Green as under it.

They apparently have a cult following but dont make a great deal of money. The Council want to close it down by not renewing the lease and then fill it up permanently. They say that its effectively being subsisdised and is a waste.

Ginglik's owners say that's rubbish and that in the long term their rent outstrips any money H&F might need to spend on the upkeep of the property as a landlord.

With Westfield radically altering the face of Shepherds Bush already I'm inclined to say keep Ginglik. But what about you?

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Appreciate our luck

I work for a Non Governmental Organisation, NGO, that tries to build peace in war torn areas. In 2 weeks I am going to a part of Africa that has suffered more than most other areas in the world. The media reports soldiers, tanks and guns but there are other forms of victimhood - particularly if you are a woman.

Thats part of the reason why I love Shepherd's Bush so much. For all its problems, and it has many, it is a world away from what most human beings call life. That's my perspective, and in an area as rich in diversity as W12 there must be so many others.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Rats in retreat

In the last few months I have witnessed an explosion of the rat population on the Green, I walk through it every morning at 0630 and usually see at least two or even three,  They're easy to spot because they're so fat from eating all the fast food thats strewn across it.

This week however the rat catchers have obviously been in - I havent seen a single one!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Recession? What, here?

You would think that a gym membership would be pretty near the top of most people’s lists of things to cut back on as we go into recession. And therefore you might think that gyms themselves would make a little bit more effort to keep their customers.


Not so Fitness First in Shepherd’s Bush. This morning we all trudged in and did our thing only to find that their showers didn’t work. Nobody had thought to tell us this when we arrived.


We all therefore left, to find showers elsewhere, happily sweating into our work clothes and thanking our good fortune to members of this establishment. Just as I left I asked why no-one had told us. The reply – “we’re fixing it now. Have a nice day.”




Sunday, 9 November 2008

Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2008

A sombre walk back from the gym this morning, past remembrance sunday taking place at the cenotaph on the Bush. What I have to confess about feeling most sad about was the sight of legions of early teenaged children from the army cadets parading about as toy soldiers. Ready for the next conflict. [gallery]

Saturday, 8 November 2008


This is a blog about Shepherd's Bush London W12. I've lived here for 5 years, and will use this place to record it. You can see more info on the blog using the "whats this blog about?" tab at the top. Enjoy!