Thursday, 30 April 2009

A Novel Idea

Excluding John Major's autobiography, I don't think Worcester Park has ever featured in a work of fiction.

That could all be about to change though, according to an e-mail I have received from Ian from San Fransisco Bay Area, California.

Ian tells me he spent the summer of 1989 living in Worcester Park as part of an exchange program and was evidently so inspired by his brief flirtation with KT4 that he is writing a novel set mostly in Worcester Park.

He has asked for my help with one particular detail of Worcester Park public transport:

"As I recall, back in '89 the trains that served Worcester Park Rail Station were sometimes of the old fashioned sort where the cars were split into separate cabins, most of which had their own doors. Does that sound at all correct?"

Now as I recall, the 'slam door' trains that I assume Ian is referring to would only occasionally have serviced Worcester Park, as they were normally used on the longer-distance services from Waterloo.

Also, I think it was only First Class sections of these trains that had those small cabins (although there were no classes of ticket on the suburban lines so when those trains were in use from Worcester Park anyone could get away with using the First Class compartments).

Perhaps readers with better memories of Worcester Park in the late 1980s can enlighten me further?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Bee Hive Yourself

For those of you now bored of Susan Boyle, here's 13 minutes' worth of YouTube footage of a man capturing a swarm of bees from a bush in Malden Manor and putting them in a hive.

And here's part two of the, erm, bee movie...

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Bowled Over

As St George's day proves on an annual basis, it's difficult (without lapsing into tired national jibes or weary cliches of morris dancers and warm beer) to come up with a list of things that are quintessentially English.

Traditional English sports would feature heavily on my list were I to have the energy to come up with one. There is little more pleasingly English than the summertime sounds of leather on willow and the rippling of applause from the pavillion.

More tea, vicar?

Then there is the reassuring clinking and polite chatter of a game of bowls being played on a perfectly manicured green - all at a comfortingly gentle pace.

Sadly, this week sees the closure of the Worcester Park Bowling Club in Green Lane. Declining membership means that the pavillion will be locked up for the final time on Thursday, closing the chapter on 88 years of bowling in Worcester Park.

I think I shall have a cucumber sandwich in their honour.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

By George

Today, as you may have noticed, is St George's Day. Or, if you drink at The Drill public house in Worcester Park, 'St Gorge's Day'.

Perhaps my heart should have been filled with patriotic pride at the site of the flag of Ing-er-lund fluttering from cars and houses around KT4. Instead, it all seemed a little naff.

Meanwhile, back in Central Road, the legend that is Ryan Gate (which has been for sale in through traditional and less traditional means for some 18 months) now appears to be under new management.

Quite which direction the new owners will take it in remains to be seen. Personally, I think the area is crying out for a Lebanese-style hair salon.

Watch this space.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Lead Astray

Google's new StreetView service was launched a few weeks back to a maelstrom of middle class concern about how the technology would prove a burglar's research tool of choice.

So it was strangely reassuring to find a criminal distinctly behind the times when it comes to Google-fuelled crimes.

The Sutton Guardian reports on how Thomas Berge from Thorton Heath was arrested in Longfellow Road on Saturday 4th April after being spotted scrambling over rooftops in Central Road intent on stealing lead tiles.

The ne'er-do-well (convicted just weeks before hand for similar offences) apparently used the good old fashioned technology of Google Earth to scour buildings with lead on their roofs.

How quaint.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Acacia Interested...

Worcester Park's twelfth hairdressing salon 'Acacia Hair & Beauty' is about to open its doors to the public. The launch party has been in full swing this evening -I wasn't invited for drinks and nibbles, but I shan't hold that against them.

There's an opening offer of 15% off many treatments - quite whether that will tempt Mrs WP away from spending a
large fortune at The Rose Spa remains to be seen.

Meanwhile the rain, the damp and the general grey misery can herald only one thing - the start of the BBQ season.

Well, the start of the CazBar barbecue season at least, starting from around 3pm tomorrow. It should, of course, be branded the 'Cazbarbecue'.

I hereby assert all rights over that title, and demand that royalties for using it be paid in the form of burgers and sausages.

Here's hoping for sunshine tomorrow.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Empty Promises

With Worcester Park becoming home to more and more empty shop units, I was excited (momentarily) to hear of exciting new plans from Community Secretary Hazel Blears to tackle the growth of 'ghost towns':

"Town centres are the heartbeat of every community and businesses are the foundation" burbled Blears in a muddle of mixed metaphors "so it is vital that they remain vibrant places for people to meet and shop throughout the downturn.

Our ideas for reviving town centres will give communities the know-how to temporarily transform vacant premises into something innovative for the community - a social enterprise, a showroom for local artists or an information centre - and stop the high street being boarded up."

It is, of course, a triumph of spin over substance. Even putting aside the very obvious problem of who would step forward to champion and fund these 'innovative' ideas in such challenging economic times, turning the off disused shop unit into a 'social enterprise' is hardly going to ease the economic woes of our small retailers.

If more were done to tackle the cause of empty shop units and to help small businesses through this economic downturn then this would be less of an issue and there would be no need for Ms Blear's beloved social enterprise showrooms.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Committed To Winning

Earlier this year I brought you news of further glory for local film maker James Webber.

There's further good news as his film 'Commitment' (some of which was shot in glorious New Malden) has won Best British Film at the British International Film Festival, so a huge blogging round of applause to James.

Meanwhile, for those of you who missed it on The Brinkster's blog a few weeks back, I urge you to devote 2 mins 54 seconds to this local gem on YouTube.

It's just crying out for a sequel, don't you think?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Going For Gold

When I was last there, the the paint still drying, the furniture had still to be moved into position and the finishing touches had yet to be added to the decorations. I was, I must admit, a little sceptical as to whether the Midas Touch was right for Worcester Park.

Now that it has been open for a week, I paid another visit last night to enjoy a night of good food, beer and cocktails.

The place was relaxed but buzzing, oozing sophistication - trendy but not pretentious. I think the seldom-quoted Mrs WP best summed up the vibe when she said to me "It doesn't feel like we're in Worcester Park".

As if it couldn't get any better, the food was absolutely fantastic - a world away from traditional pub-grub offerings, and word has obviously spread as the dining area was very busy.

In these troubled times it is great to see fresh life being breathed into a Worcster Park venue and moreover to see the creation of something so radically new, exciting and uniquely positioned.

Now, where did I put the Alka Seltzer...

Thursday, 9 April 2009

I Wheelie Bin Missing You

Perhaps you have just passed by without giving it so much as a second thought. Or perhaps, like me, you have been deeply moved by the plight of the lonely brown wheelie-bin that has been standing lost and forlorn outside the old Samuel James estate agency on Central Road for several weeks now.

Abandoned and left to fend for itself, it has clearly not been fed (or emptied) for quite some time.
Perhaps through the power of the Worcester Park Blog we can re-unite it with its rightful owner?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Child Proof

Those of you who have been following comments on the Midas Touch blog post will have seen that it has turned into an impassioned debate about the issue of young children in cafes and pubs.

I have some sympathy with both sides of the argument. Of course parents have every right to use the cafes, restaurants and family-friendly pubs in the area and to bring their youngsters in with them.

On the other hand, I can understand the ire of those who find their quiet civilised drink or bite to eat ruined by toddlers running amok and screaming for England.

Let us not lose sight of one very important fact. The problem here is not with every toddler that is brought into such premises. The problem is with the irritating minority of parents who are either so unable to control their offspring or so oblivious to the rights and needs of others that they ruin things for the rest of us.

I have been in 'Berties' and 'Cuppaholic' many a time and seen very young children sitting happily and engaging with their parents and it is a joy to behold.

Yet I have also endured the tantrums and screaming that can often make Costa Coffee an unbearable place to be during the daytime.

This is not really an argument about parents and children. It is an argument about good old-fashioned respect (or lack of).

Until we can all learn the important art of mutual respect, the argument is only going to intensify.

Closing Comments

I have pondered for a few days whether this is actually blogging about, but I shall anyway. Fab Collections (formerly Treasure Trove, A.K.A 'The Betty Boop place) has announced that it is 'Closing Down'.

For those of you who have a sense of deja vu, here are previous blog posts about this store closing down to become a restaurant, then closing down then re-opening under a new name selling exactly the same stuff as before.

So, we look forward to the closing down sale, closely followed by a 're-opening sale'.