Saturday, 30 August 2008

The morning after the night before

Ah! The simple pleasure of having a keyboard to blog with rather than pounding my disorganised thoughts into a phone keypad before they flit away.

For those who were following along last night you'll notice I've removed the duplicate post and photos, caused in a large part by not getting a 3G connection in the bowels of the ITV building and having the phone stall on the uploads. Mobile blogging's not quite as simple as some would have you believe.

Anyway, to relate the photos to last night's action we first went on a tour of the ITV offices where ITV Local is based.

Then we went across to the other building which hosts the newsroom, studios, and iconic views familiar to many TV watchers

Then it was into the newsroom to see the assorted newsdesks and an explanation of how the various programmes and items are put together.... and also to see where the presenters work when they're not on screen...

If you go follow through to the large image you'll see Alastair Stewart going through the programme items just before going down to the studio. Yes, there is a photo of me with him. No, you can't see it.

Then we were into the bit where cameras weren't allowed. The ITV Local studio was just as you see it on TV, except that without the presenters in place the sofa's decidedly threadbare!! The cameras are all automated and run from the gallery so no people needed to operate them in the studio. The ITN studio was vast by comparison and aside from the desk and chairs it was all green-screened to enable the computer wizardry to do its thing. From there it was back up to the gallery to watch the promos and intros being filmed complete with outtakes and banter and then a quick explanation from the director of everything going on in the gallery before the programme started. As previously posted the show went very smoothly and they handed over to the next programme at precisely the right moment, which is the key thing apparently. They were earlier noting that the previous programme had handed over a second early. "Didn't they do that to us yesterday?". After the show it was into the short debrief meeting and then over to post to the blog and chat with the other bloggers before heading to the pub, passing Alastair who'd gone outside for his post-show ciggie!

The serious point of the exercise was to go some way to exploring the question of how a company like ITV with its regional newsrooms and finite amount of on-screen time (unlike BBC News 24 or Sky News) can provide interesting local news in addition to broadly appealing TV news. They have the ability for people to submit their own news or provide their own videos so if anybody fancies their hand as a roving reporter do get in touch and we'll see if we can find a way to make it work for Worcester Park.

A quick "Hi" to the other bloggers who were there, Ludovic of Richmond Transit, Rob of About Mayfair, Ben Locker of, erm, Ben Locker and a quick "Hoi" to Melinda of Miss Geeky. Many thanks to Lee, Jack, Casey, Jocelyn, Colin and Juliette of ITV Local and 1000 Heads.

If you want to read the ITV Local London blog then the URL is and yes, Alastair does write his own entries and yes, that really is me on their blogroll.

Friday, 29 August 2008


Vodafone mail just ate my last post so I'll recap . Alastair's a real pro and all of the people at ITV have been great at giving us access to the inner sanctum of their operations. The programme went unusually smoothly and it was fascinating being in on the behind the scenes banter and jokes, intentional or otherwise. ITV introduced us to their local news and blog site which fills in the gaps in the more general coverage. All in all it's been a real insight into professional news and a lot of fun. Now to the pub!


Lovely welcome from the ITV folks and after tea and biscuits we head off to the studio. No pics allowed in the studio though, although I did snap one on the tour of the office and I've grabbed a few in the newsroom, including one of me with the very friendly Alastair Stewart. More later!

Mobile blogging

Thanks to the kindness of Lee and the people at the ITV Local blog I'm off to their studios this evening for a tour, to watch the news being broadcast from the gallery and to meet the presenters. I'll upload photos as I go and they will appear on the Flickr gallery (right). All this is being done from my Nokia phone so we'll see how it goes!

Quote of the week

It's only my quote of the week, nobody else's, but I though it might give you a Friday chuckle. This comment about the Olympics choice of host city comes from Dave Garner in Southport, courtesy of the Guardian letters:

I admit, I questioned the wisdom of giving the games to a city with such a poor human rights record - every citizen under surveillance, police executing suspects, people interrogated just for taking a photo in a railway station - but maybe London can rise to the occasion.

If you were looking for something Worcester Park related then I can point you in the direction of the newly formed Worcester Park Rangers, who appear to have their first game away to Battersea Dogs a week on Sunday. I can hardly wait........

Friday, 22 August 2008

Sutton Council - one man down

Some of Worcester Park, including my particular bit, is under the auspices of Sutton Council and there are a number of great Councillors in Sutton but, as you may have read inferred from some of my previous entries, there seem to be some who don't seem to have the people of Sutton at heart. Having sat through a number of Council meetings now I can entirely sympathise with one Councillor who according to the local Guardian is packing it in because "The last two or three council meetings have literally descended into a circus, with name calling, backstabbing and general bitchiness behind the scenes", which seems to be an insiders view of the same things that I saw and heard at the last Executive meeting.

However the Guardian does go on to mention:
A political source said: “Obviously losing the fire in his belly won’t stop Coun Pickles hanging on the council for dear life until May 2010, by which time he would have trousered about £17,000 in members’ allowances.
Which either back up what he said about backstabbing machinations or suggests that the Council might prosper without him. Who to believe?

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Worcester Park's tenuous link to Z list celebrity

As mentioned in my last post Worcester Park will soon have a new shop when "Cycle Power" opens up in the unit next to Papa Johns and they now have a website up, which can be found here. It links off to another site called "Pedal in The Right Place" which provides cycle training for children and adults and in their news section they mention that Cycle Power is due to open at the end of August. Another thing they mention in their news section is that their head instructor, Fred Ellis, recently made an appearance on Big Brother teaching one of the inmates housemates to ride a bike, as the local Guardian noted.

In other news, the folks behind the recent Classic Bus Day, have a review of the day on their website and have issued a request for pictures to add to the archive. If you do have pictures to offer, or just want to read the review, then head over here. They estimate that there were some 8,000 to 10,000 passengers on the assorted buses, which is quite a result. Are you reading this Boris?

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The worst thing about holidays.....

.... is coming back.

I've always been of the opinion that when someone goes on holiday any work they had to do should either be dealt with by their colleagues or just disappear into the mist and never been seen again. No such luck. I've spent my week doing last week's work and this week's work which I can offer as my only feeble excuse for not posting sooner.

First things first I'm pleased to see that long time commenter The Parkerilla has got his own blog going and I'd recommend you to give it a read over here.

Both he and The Worcester Park Blogger have done admirable service to the Classic Bus Day in Worcester Park so I'd recommend you go and have a look at their posts on the subject to see all the pictures. I wandered down to the station to have a look as I was on my way to Sutton but ended up catching a regular TFL 213 (it arrived first, OK) but did manage to catch a Classic 213 back. I've been in some ostentatious cars in my time but few of them received the kind of admiring and bemused attention than that bus did on Sunday so well done to everyone at Red-Rf for a great day.

On Saturday afternoon I spotted a sign out on Central Road.

It was Sutton Council rather belatedly consulting the public on their recycling policy, by which I mean why you now have to pay £35 to get your garden waste recycled. I did pop in and pick up a consultation questionnaire, along with a number of others, so I can take my part in the democratic process. If you didn't see the sign on the day or see any advance notification that they were going to be there I think I may have found out one reason why:

This is the sign at the junction of Green Lane and Central Road entitled "Waste and recycling policy - have your say"..... perhaps someone should have used waterproof ink!?!? For any fans of the late Douglas Adams I think this could be called consultation, Vogon style.

Lastly the shop next to Papa John's is going to be Cycle Power.

Although Worcester Park has tried and failed to have a successful cycle shop before perhaps they've got their timing right given the current fuel price situation and I hope they'll make a success of it. Having a cycle shop pretty much at the end of Brinkley Road will certainly be handy for me anyway!

Let me know what else I've missed on my week (or so) away!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Just when you thought it was safe........

..... to talk about the Hamptons.

Oh dear. I've had a flurry of emails this morning drawing my attention to a tabloid article besmirching our dear suburb of Worcester Park. The Daily Mail has decided that to compensate for being late to the Hamptons curfew they need to be more inflammatory than any preceding article by printing stuff like:

'It's like living in prison,' blasts another, furious that children living in the 'poor' end of the estate should be treated differently.

The affluent Hamptons homeowners are equally forthright in defending the terms of the curfew.

'What do they expect?' asks one such resident, 'an open invite to a cheese-and-wine party?

and continues by reporting on the social housing in a completely unselfish way by saying:

And far from indulging in tennis tournaments or amateur dramatics, their inhabitants have been blamed for a sequence of rather less respectable pastimes.

In a spate of petty vandalism, communal bins and a shed have been set alight and empty bottles of alcoholic drink have been found littered across the green expanses.

While it is impossible to say for certain who is responsible, TVHA, which manages The Hamptons' social housing properties, has responded by asking its tenants to sign an agreement ensuring that children are not allowed out after 9pm.

and then alleged quotes from other Hamptons residents about the rest of Worcester Park:

'You people who live outside The Hamptons should feel bloody lucky that you have these calibre of people living there (not being snobby), but it will benefit you in the long run with house prices, etc. etc.

'Here we are also trying our hardest to integrate with the local community by opening up our private tennis courts to 'outsiders' for your use as well as ours, but that opportunity has been ruined by people who misuse them.'

Others are more caustic: 'I understand that the social housing folk of The Hamptons are not happy with one allocated parking space each, so they are parking on other people's private property.

The first of those is a direct quote from The Worcester Park Blog post "Come Friendly Bombs" here, as is at least one of the other quotes in the article. Nice to know that the journos have done their research on the ground in Worcester Park then!!!

No matter what the rights and wrongs of the arguments are about the Hamptons it's certainly not being helped by the media sticking their noses in and printing a whole bunch of inflammatory anonymous quotes that may or may not be entirely fictional. The article closes with three actual quotes from named people or organisations but prior to that they're printing quotes from potentially anybody. If anyone reading this has been approached for a quote on the Hamptons I'd be interested to hear what you were asked, what was printed, what wasn't printed and whether what was printed accurately reflected what was said.
I know Worcester Park has written an article in August's Worcester Park Life about the Hamptons so we'll see if anybody from the mainstream press picks up on that...... I doubt the publicity is going to help St James get their appeal or revised plans for the Hamptons expansion through so in principle I don't mind some objective and factual reporting of the issues but I do object to the kind of journalism that, when it finds a fire, pours petrol on it and leaves the people to burn while they take photos of the damage.
You can read the whole Daily Mail article here.
Thanks to Liz, Andy, Jenny and another Andy for the morning emails!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Critical thought

I'm in pre-holiday wind-down mode so don't expect a huge amount from me over the next week, unless you're comfortable with disappointment. To my mind a holiday is what you get when you get away from computers in a country where they don't speak English. It seems like I'll only manage one of those in the next seven to ten days but I'm looking forward to none the less.

With little to report in Worcester Park I thought I'd do something different and invite you to step away from your current thoughts and come with me on a brief journey into the past.

If you go through many posts here you'll find that every so often I'll insert some historical fact about Worcester Park, many from David Rymill's excellent book on the subject, as history has always been a big interest for me though Mrs Brinkster might roll her eyes when Miss Brinkster and myself sit down to watch something on the History channel (Tony Robinson on Nero last night!). It's been said that if you don't understand history then you can't understand the present and in many cases the realities of historical events are much more dramatic than TV or Hollywood can capture.

Many years ago the film "Braveheart" came out to rave reviews so having watched and enjoyed it I duly trudged off to Foyles to read up on the subject and was largely disappointed to find that virtually none of the film followed the immensely sketchy historical records. Don't get me wrong, it's a great film, very entertaining, epic battles, good plot, love interest, etc, etc and probably deserving of its five Oscars and I've seen it several times. The only problem is that I can't quite get away from the nagging feeling that while I'm watching it the wool is being pulled over my eyes and I'm guessing that there are probably a generation of kids who think that Braveheart is a documentary. So imagine my delight to find an article in The Guardian the other day that concisely and comprehensively dismantled Mel Gibson's portrayal of Scottish history. Some of the better excerpts include:

"We begin in 1280 when, a voiceover informs us, the Scottish king has died with no sons. In fact, King Alexander III of Scotland didn't die until 1286, and in 1280 both of his sons were still alive. Meanwhile, outside a grubby West Highland hut, young Wallace is wandering around in the mud. The real Wallace came from Renfrewshire and was the privileged son of a noble landowner. This isn't going at all well, and we're only three minutes in."

"After his lady love is murdered by the English, Wallace pretends to surrender. At the last minute, he whips out a concealed nunchaku. Wait, what? Glossing over its implication that medieval Scotland imported arms from China, Wallace's rebellion gathers pace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, which the film has inexplicably set in a field. Rather than, you know, on a bridge. For pity's sake. The clue's in the name."

"So irresistible are the Scotsman's hairy charms that she [Isabella] allows him to impregnate her. This scene is set in 1304 or 5, when the real Isabella would have been nine years old. Accuracy on that point might have been a bit tasteless, but accuracy on the point that she was still living in France and didn't marry the Prince of Wales until three years after Wallace's death would have been fine."

"regardless of whether you read English or Scottish historians on the matter, Braveheart still serves up a great big steaming haggis of lies."

If you do go and see an historical movie or read a book that purports to be an accurate depiction of historical events then please do read at least one genuine history book on the subject as well. The scary thing is that you get the feeling that with Hollywood movies like Braveheart some people really believe it was true......

If science is your thing rather than history then I'd recommend Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog

Have a great weekend!!