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London – the world-class city where you can’t get a takeaway on a Saturday night

London – the world-class city where you can’t get a takeaway on a Saturday night

Disney characters starvingOne of the many many reasons for living in London is that it’s meant to be a world-class city, the place people flock to.

Well, I hope they don’t want a simple takeaway delivered on a Saturday night because it seems nigh on impossible.

Our first choice was Sufi – a Persian restaurant round the corner rated by Jessie J and Time Out, amongst others. We’ve ordered from there before without any problems, but of course that was on a weeknight. We called them tonight, to be told they don’t deliver on a Saturday night.

Next stop, another Persian restaurant called The Piano in Chiswick. We ordered it via Hungry House seemingly without a problem – thirty minutes later, with our hunger pangs getting ever more desperate, we get an email only to be told they rejected our order without any explanation as to why. I really should have checked the website earlier – they manage to spell Persian wrong on their homepage. Seriously.

Ditching the notion of such exotic cuisine as Persian altogether, we thought we’d retreat to the safety of Chinese food. So tried to call the Drunken Tiger restaurant (great name, amiright?) in Shepherds’ Bush. After five minutes of them not answering their phone, we gave up.

We finally resorted to the tried and tested Seven Stars takeaway round the corner – really, we should have stuck with them from the start, because they took our order without any problem and it’ll arrive in thirty minutes. Fingers crossed.

And now we’re starving and ready for bed at the same time. Not a great combo!

Change is not always good

Change is not always good

The GoldhawkFor the last ten years, my local of choice has been The Goldhawk. It’s a short walk from my house, and serves pretty good food and a wide selection of drinks for a London-reasonable price. And it’s always accepted my American Express cashback credit card, which is handy because I can tell myself that I get 10p back for every £10 I spend.

On Sunday, we had need of a Sunday roast dinner. So we blearily stumbled down to The Goldhawk for 12pm, and noticed change was in the air.

For a start, instead of the usual chirpy cheerful barmaids that usually greeted us, there was a strange man with a whispy Dad’s Army-esque spiv moustache. He was friendly and polite enough, but we had to ask for the Sunday lunch menu. Then it turned out that there wasn’t one – and we could choose from chicken, lamb or beef. When asked where the usual-vegetarian option was, he shrugged and said the suppliers hadn’t brought any in, and that apparently the pub had just changed hands from one national conglomerate to another – namely Faucet Inns.

Still, our stomachs cried out for a traditional Sunday roast and Miss H deferred to our immediate needs, and she ordered nachos and chips instead. I took out my American Express card for payment, and was immediately told, most apologetically, that they no longer took American Express. Disgrace! Still, our hunger could not be denied.

Our food came in due course, and here came the final change. One that was so heinous that if we hadn’t already paid, I’d have seriously contemplated going somewhere else. A very meagre allocation of roast potatoes – just two – AND NO YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS. A Sunday roast just isn’t a Sunday roast without Yorkshire puddings. And to top it all off, the puddings menu was non-existent too.

To be fair, the rest of the food was delicious, and I’ve had reasonably good times in The Goldhawk before so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But even so… be careful, Goldhawk Manager. That’s all I’m saying.

FourSquare in the UK – finally there’s a use. Oh.

FourSquare in the UK – finally there’s a use. Oh.

Like many people who use FourSquare, I often wonder if there’s actually any point to checking in to a location, aside from point scoring and the fact I’m usually bored at a bus stop.

American friends of mine tell of strange legends whereby if you show you’re a Mayor at certain locations, the staff there look kindly upon you and give you a bonus. But I thought that’d never come here.

Until I heard that the West12 Shopping Centre in Shepherds Bush is offering a free SuperShake to the Mayor of that location in any one week. They’re incredibly active on the social media front, what with having a Twitter feed and a Facebook page.

Unfortunately, social media can only go so far. The reality of the West12 Shopping Centre is that it was a slightly dowdy and dying shopping mall even before the heavy big-guns of Westfield moved in opposite. There’s a gym, a supermarket, a cinema and a pub but most of the units are to let and there’s nothing there to draw people in aside from for the basic needs of the week.

So how are companies in the UK actually using FourSquare? Or is it doomed to go the way of the even more pointless Twitter game Spymaster, which at one point everyone seemed to be playing until they all realised it was useless and had no end goal?

W12 Election watch – week three

W12 Election watch – week three

So it’s been two weeks since my last update of what the election candidates seem to be doing in the 78th Tory target seat of Hammersmith. So this is what I’ve been observing locally at least:

Labour

Labour have definitely gone for a personal approach. Aside from a couple of flyers stuffed through my letterbox (one of them on the day of the launch of the Labour manifesto), I’ve spotted candidate Andy Slaughter twice at White City station (again, on Labour manifesto launch day).

To top all that off, he even paid a visit to my road. Naturally, in advance canvassers knocked on everyone’s door in advance to see who wanted to speak to him and only one household took him up on his offer. And his Twitter feed at least took the time to acknowledge one of my tweets.

Conservatives

By contrast, Shaun Bailey‘s team have been relatively quiet after their initially strong showing. I’ve had a couple of leaflets through my door – saving money by combining his election pledges with the local council’s Conservative candidates pledges – but I’ve not seen him or his team anywhere on my travels.

However, you can’t move in the constituency without seeing some Conservative billboard – ironically with Gordon Brown’s smiling face. I’ve not seen any Labour billboards in the area.

Liberal Democrats

Alas, nothing directly from the LibDem candidate Merlene Emerson – although her team did email me direct. But that doesn’t count for the purposes of this comparison.

I may have gotten a leaflet from her or her local council colleagues vying for my vote in my ward.

Other candidates

Again, nothing at all from the other candidate. While I don’t particularly want to hear from the UKIP or the BNP candidate, I do wonder where the Green candidate is. And what Stephen Brennan is standing for.

Still, there’s seven days to go…

W12 Election watch – week one

W12 Election watch – week one

So, I happen to live in the 78th Tory target seat, in a seat that’s currently held by a Labour MP (who couldn’t be bothered to discuss the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Commons). My council ward is a top target for the Liberal Democrats. Let’s see how much effort they’re putting into getting my vote (apparently currently worth 1.46x the UK average), while I live my daily life in this constituency. Note that I am, like most people, not going out of my way to attract the attention of candidates.

Conservatives

They’ve been stalking my local tube station, exhorting me to vote for the local candidate by shouting “Vote for this remarkable man!”. What, no policies? No manifesto? I should just vote for Shaun Bailey because he’s a “remarkable man”? I think the local barman is a remarkable man for all sorts of reasons, but I wouldn’t vote for him.

At home, I’ve had three letters from the Conservative party – it’s gotten to the point when I can spot the letters. They look like formal official letters, and – according to the back of the envelope – seem to come from CCHQ. Which uncomfortably reminds me of GCHQ – ironic, considering the last letter asked me to consider Labour’s erosion of civil liberties versus what the Tories would do.

Liberal Democrats

Not a word from the LibDem candidate, which seems a bit of a shame. But the prospective LibDem councillors have stuck a leaflet through my door, extolling their attempts to get London Transport to improve a bus route. Given the road it goes through has a bunch of closed shops and a recently revitalised library, I’d have thought that particular area needs more than an improved bus route.

UK Independence Party

There’s a rather offensive poster down the Goldhawk Road screaming about how 5000 immigrants a day move to the UK, and what a terrible thing this is. Never mind the Goldhawk Road tends to be one of the more diverse roads in W12.

Labour

Absolutely nothing. Which seems bizarre.

I wonder if this’ll improve next week…

How the snow affects London…

How the snow affects London…

So round where I am, the snow is less than 4mm. Enough to make people slip at 8am – especially when they’re walking back from the off-licence with their daily six cans of beer – but not enough to stop the buses, cars, trains or anything else. At least, in Inner London.

But that hasn’t stopped the ridculously funny panicing behaviour of some Londoners, to whit:
– panic-buying in the shops
– Someone on BBC Radio 1 who had an event cancelled because of the snow: “We’re not being cowards, we’re genuinely fearful of our health and safety”
– one woman walking home in the middle of a light snowstorm, wearing just a skimpy black lace top. Talk about being caught out…

And despite the lack of snow, there was still enough for kids to start having snowball fights in local parks, and enough to give the usually dour and grey street I’m on a bit of colour. Which is good enough for me for now.

Still, some random highlights of the snow in London:
– bikini-clad models hired to promote a dance workout DVD end up having a snowball fight (The Telegraph). They must have been FREEZING.
– Other Londonist pics of London in the snow
London on ice in days gone by
Snow Daleks!
Why it doesn’t snow in Inner London

Obsessed with snow? Moi?

Obsessed with snow? Moi?

An hour after I made this video, the snow has stopped. Oh snow Gods, why do you punish me thusly?

Arguing over parking spaces…

Arguing over parking spaces…

You’d have thought that a three-way confrontation in a West London housing estate on a sultry summer evening would be sparked over something important, like racist community action, or something. But not a blimmin’ parking space.

First of all, some background. I’ve part-owned my flat for about a decade – but the parking space is not outside my flat, it’s further down the estate opposite someone else’s house. Since I don’t own a car any more, I rent out said parking space to whoever wants it, for about £5 a day. So far, there’s been no troubles …

until today. Some building company wanted to park their Transit van there for a month, and offered me a lump sum which I accepted. When they finally arrived at said parking space, they pointed out that there was already a scooter there. So I suggested they just park in the space next to the scooter.

Oh no. These numbnuts MOVE the scooter to the pavement.

Cue three of today’s finest yoof angrily coming out of the house opposite, (understandably) asking what on earth is going on. So now I have to prove my ownership of said space – which comes as a surprise to the evil Curly Watts lookalike (complete with bottles for glasses) who owns the house opposite.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been very good at confronting the thieving yoof of today, so while I’m trying to remain calm, I’m probably slightly stuttering and quietly spoken. But the leader of the yoof gang gleefully informs me that I’m shouting, but then of course everyone else is shouting at each other. Oh, and for bonus points, he says I stink – which is as close as you can get to a racist insult without it actually being a racist insult. Hell, he might as well have said I stank of curry powder.

So all this took the wind out of my sails, but at the same time, the kids withdrew back into the house, with the Curly Watts lookalike threatening to beat us up. The owners of said Transit van are no longer sure that the parking space is safe, and thus leave.

So I’m left with a house at the end of the street that hates me, a parking space that I can’t really use for fear that one of them will vandalise anything that’s put there, and a reminder of my utter ineptness at dealing with the arrogant yoof of today. Just like the time in Cardiff when I confronted someone trying to steal my bike and HE CARRIED ON BREAKING THE LOCK WHILE I WAS THERE.

Just another random muggy spring night on my housing estate.

"Give me my pizza or I will f**k you up"

"Give me my pizza or I will f**k you up"

was the phrase that I heard shouted in the street below.

Being unable to resist the temptation to look, I twitched the curtain and saw two women – one elderly woman in her 50s wearing tracksuit bottoms and a young girl in an all-pink tracksuit – confronting a helmeted pizza delivery man. It would seem that they had been waiting for their pizza for over an hour and were extremely angry that the man would not give them their pizza.

So while shouting phrases like “Don’t you f**king touch my daughter” (who had the said pizza), they chased the pizza delivery man down the street, and pushed over his motorbike. At some point, presumably happy that they had the pizza, they allowed the pizza delivery man to motorbike away, and went back inside their house.

Two minutes later, he biked back and parked at the far end of the street. I have no idea why.

Just another random spring night in West London!

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