Archive for November, 2008

Advent Windows

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Since today is Advent Sunday, I know you’ll all be busy with your coat hangers and tinsel making the Blue Peter Advent Crown (these days, the Health & Safety spoilsports recommend you use baubles instead of real candles, but that’s just plain wrong…) but I thought I’d let you know that the Greenwich Live Advent Windows is going to be happening again this year.

As last year, there will be a different decorated window in Greenwich Town Centre revealed every day of Advent. Some are in shops, some in schools, some in festively-minded individuals’ houses. If it’s anything like last year, it will be a bit of a pick & mix – most were fabulous, a couple were utterly breathtaking; one or two decidedly patchy, but all together they make a really lovely build up to the Big Day and I wouldn’t miss it for all the coffee at Beehive.

If you can’t be bothered to check the website every day, I’ll be posting the address of where to find the day’s window each morning on the blog. A sneak peek ahead looks really quite exciting.

Annoyingly I can’t find any of the photos I took of last year’s windows. They’re in an album somewhere on my computer. Grrr.

So here’s my favourite unofficial Christmas window photo from last year. I call it “T’was Christmas At The Kebab House…”

If that doesn’t get us all in a festive mood, I don’t what will…

Greenwich IMAX

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

I’ve just been invited to a launch screening at the new Greenwich IMAX next Thursday. I can’t go, of course – sadly the whole Anon business gets in the way of such freebies, but I thought you should know it’s coming.

The email I’ve been sent is annoyingly vague. They call it the Odeon Imax, so I’m assuming that it’s at the cylindrical wind tunnel next door to B&Q on the peninsula, but when I looked up the Odeon’s website all it said was that a new IMAX screen was coming – no details. They give no dates for it – save the actual launch screening .

Strangely, when I delved deeper, after the initial ‘it’s coming’ message I found, it suddenly appeared to have already launched – are they quietly testing it out at the moment? Maybe that email was sent to me from another dimension and they’ve had this for years. Have I been sleeping – a sort of Rip Van Phantom? I’ve asked the PR company to furnish me with more details. They probably won’t after I’ve been so rude about their email…

Well, folks. We can’t say we’re stuck for cinematic options. We have the largest screen in Europe at the O2 (don’t sit in the front row of the balcony though) we have the dear little Picturehouse, with its all-embracing screenings for everyone from screaming children through autistic people to the elderly and still has a truly personal, grown-up touch (I confess this is still the Phantom Choice – oh, and if you renew your membership via direct debit, they give you an extra three months on your membership at the moment…)

Sadly for me it also seems to be everyone else’s choice – when I called up to get a couple of tickets for the free screening next Sunday, they’d totally run out. Peter O’Toole+Snowy Picture In December+Free seems to be a winning combination.

But now we have an IMAX screen at the Odeon, which, frankly, needed something to make me want to go. It’s geographically closest to me, but the hoards of teenagers, the general racket in the actual screen(chatting, sweet wrappers, mobile phone conversations – why do these people bother paying to see the movie – they could do all that outside) and the desolate feel it has on a cold windy night means that it’s my last choice just now.

But an IMAX might just tempt me for the big movies. Apparently The Dark Knight was filmed in IMAX, and Harry Potter may or may not be 3D (they didn’t say whether they meant the last HP – or the next…) and if there’s extra, fun, gadgety bits on a film I deffo want to see them. It might have relieved the tedium of the last Batman – which could have comfortably lost an hour and still been wonderful.

I haven’t been back to the Odeon since the bloody awful Popcorn, which I only went to because it was set at – well, at the Odeon in Greenwich, actually. But I will give the IMAX a go, next time there’s a blockbuster that isn’t Madagascar II in town.

Satellite Dishes

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Dave has decided to get himself SKY HD – but he’s run into a problem…

“As my dish is located at the rear of the house (my area has a preservation order, so nothing on the front) the only access is over the roof.

It seems that Sky now have “Health & Safety” rules which prevents their engineers going on to roofs so I would like to know if any “Phantomites” know of a reliable installation company.”

The Phantom finds it mildly surprising that a company specialising in dishes that go on roofs won’t insure its employees to actually install them on one, but perhaps that shows more about the society we live in these days. (bring back the child chimney sweeps, that’s what I say…)

I asked a pal who has just had an aerial installed where they went to and for the life of them they can’t remember (though the most ringing endorsement they had for the company was “Well, it hasn’t fallen down yet…” so perhaps you can do better.)

So I’m opening this one out to the floor. Have you had an aerial (or SKY dish) fitted recently? I know that erecting them in this area is often quite a bugger as we’re the ‘wrong’ side of Greenwich Hill, so in order to get a clear signal from Crystal Palace, we need to have aerials almost as tall as the mast itself, so anyone who regularly works in this area must know how to secure things pretty darn well.

Happy HD Dave…

Royal Nepalese – Eat-In

Friday, November 28th, 2008

2-4, Station Crescent, London, SE3 7EQ
Tel: 020 8269 0505

I confess I’ve been a drifting Phantom as far as Indian restaurants and takeways have been recently. There seems to have been a general swapping-round of chefs in the area and my erstwhile solid favourites have been sorely disappointing recently. I’ve been forced to start my search again, randomly picking new places – and testing a few I dismissed earlier.

Now, takeaway and eat-in are two different things. Look no further than the Mehak for that – their eat-in is absolutely great (possibly a fave) but the takeaways just don’t seem to cut it IMHO. So whenever I review a new place from now on, I’m going to say whether I ate in or had a takeaway.

In my latest drive to find somewhere new I decided to retry the Royal Nepalese by Westcombe Park Station (opposite the still-pretty-good-for eat-in Coriander.)

I last ate there about three years ago. It had been one of my favourites before that but suddenly seemed to go downhill and after a couple of very lacklustre meals, I moved on.

It’s been so long that they’ve actually redecorated since I last went in – a simple, almost oriental style with sundry pictures of elderly Nepalese gentlefolk, one of whom looks distincly like she’s blowing a party blower. The reception was friendly – very friendly – we were the only ones in there, perhaps a sign of the times.

We ordered a combination of the secret Phantom Control Meal and a couple of chefs recommendations, with some puppodums while we waited, which was probably a good thing – it took some time to serve us despite our being the only table in there (though not as long as the new Ghurka place – which I’ll get onto another day…) The puppodums were crisp and light, and tasted fresh, and the chutneys and pickles were tasty and at least one of them looked home-made.

As regular readers will know, the Phantom Control Meal remains a closely guarded secret, but I guess it’s hardly a surprise that it includes rice – which was fluffy and fresh – and naan, which was pleasingly heavy and bready.

The other dishes were pleasantly-spiced (neither too hot nor bland) and although some of the ‘extra ingredients’ (nothing bad – I don’t mean creepy crawlies or anything – just unexpected) felt a bit odd, they weren’t unwelcome.

I asked if they’d changed chef – it was such a difference – but the waiter/manager said it was the same guy. I can only assume that they’ve pulled their socks up, as this was a completely different experience from my last visit. Maybe it has something to do with the competition opposite. Who cares, if it means there are now two good curry places within ten metres of each other?

I haven’t had a takeaway from them yet, so I can’t recommend that section. But I have to say I was highly impressed with the eat-in experience. At a time when we’re all cutting down (yes, even me) on eating out, the last thing we want is a duff time when we do venture out. I’m not convinced I’ve found Curry Nirvana in Royal Nepalese, but it will certainly do while I’m still looking…

The Phantom Bookshelf is Live

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Folks, the Phantom Webmaster has been up all night, Allen-key in sweaty mitt, patiently putting Tab A into Slot B, tightening Nut C and trying to find Washer D, building the Phantom Bookshelf (sadly not bought at MFI…) to replace the housebrick-and-plank combo it was resting on. It can now be found on the sidebar, if you’re ever looking to find a book about Greenwich.

Of course my own work isn’t nearly done. I’ve listed about a third of my bookshelf, but it’s deceptive as I haven’t got to the little racks of pamphlets and really thin books yet and they’re the ones who are going to take the serious time. And I keep getting distracted as I pull something down which I forget I’ve got and start reading it. Invariably I find something that needs ‘further research’ and that’s it for the day…

I’d say ‘please bear with me’ but I utterly loathe it when someone in a call centre in Arbroathshire tells me to do that…

Greenwich Geese

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

While reading about cut-purses, highwaymen and general cozenry around Greenwich, I discovered that, far from being the angelic old gentlemen that was the popular image of the Greenwich Pensioners, many of the descriptions of wanted men in the 17th and 18th centuries included desperadoes who’d scarpered with “a suit of blue clothes, one hat, a pair of shoes, three pairs of stockings, a shirt marked G.R., a stock, cup, spoon, and towel.”

They acquired their nickname ‘Greenwich Geese’ from a tale of light-fingeredness told by a disgruntled local farmer whose flocks kept going missing. He woke up one night to hear a cacophony of cackling from his barnyard and on peering out of the window, saw no geese at all – but he did see a bunch of rapidly-disappearing elderly gentlemen in blue outfits making a quick getaway in a boat. (Given that virtually every picture I ever see of Greenwich Pensioners seems to involve at least one wooden leg, I can’t help feeling there’s a sitcom in there somewhere.)

“There, go my geese, there go my geese!” he shouted – and the name stuck. History does not tell us whether he ever got his birds back or whether they went to supplement what was, admittedly, a pretty rubbish diet.

Looking at how the pensioners lived from day to day, it’s sort of understandable, even if not exactly condonable, that they’d take to a spot of farmyard-breaking. I was reading The Pictorial Guide to Greenwich from 1844 recently (mostly fascinating for its less-than-appreciative remarks about Thornhill’s murals in the Painted Hall…”uninteresting”…”want of taste”…”extremely ludicrous…”) which has descriptions (and the engraving above) of the living quarters – which, it would seem, tourists could just wander around at will.

“It has a rather sombre look; and despite the cleanly neatness of the sleeping places, which are something between ship’s cabins and civilised bedchambers, the thought will force itself upon us, that the old men, after their lives of stirring danger, must find this place dull. “

It goes on to describe the different ways that each cabin’s effort towards personalisation – one “gay in coloured prints,” others had sheaves of naval songs, models of ships, books or carvings, which had “occupied the leisure of seven long years of an old pensioner who thus whiled away the tedium…”

It’s exactly the excuses we hear for crime purveyed by Youf Of Today, isn’t it, only this is Senile Delinquency. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Presumably providing table tennis bats and once-a-month discos wouldn’t have cut it for them, either. In fact when I think of all the almshouses, with their frequently-ignored rules, the hospital with its Geese and the highwaymen of the heath, I begin to think that we’ve got it soft these days…

I should perhaps point out Greenwich Geese have nothing to do with Winchester Geese despite the two existing around the same time as each other and being just a few miles apart. At least, I assume they didn’t have anything to do with each other. Given the tales of drunkenness and half-inchery, I’m beginning to wonder…

Rear Window (12)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

We haven’t had a Rear Window for some time (for those of you who have just joined the blog, it’s where we get nosy and look at Greenwich from other people’s perspectives, AKA their back windows…) – so today I’m delighted to bring to you a bit of a humdinger. This is Benedict’s gaff – and just look at the view he gets. It’s Greenwich Station, obviously, and if you’re planning on getting a train from there this morning, don’t forget to give him a cheery wave…
Keep ‘em coming, folks.

Car Mechanics Again

Monday, November 24th, 2008

We’ve been here before, but sometime’s it’s worth revisiting. Alison has moved down from the North West where she’s been used to paying between £80 – £100 to have her car serviced and is a bit shocked at the quote she’s just had for £240. She’s wondering if anyone can recommend somewhere that’s good and not too pricey.

I’ve just had my car serviced and it cost me £236.30, which I’m afraid, Alison, I think is pretty much par for the course down here. Of course, it’s possible that I’m being ripped off, but the very fact that you’ve been quoted nearly the same amount as I’ve just paid makes me think it’s about right.

My mechanic is an old family friend and sadly isn’t taking any new customers on (not, I suspect, that you;d be particularly interested at that price…) – can anyone suggest any good people for Alison?

In the meanwhile, I thought you might like a sneaky peek at the Phat Phantom-Mobile, parked in its special residents parking bay outside the Phantom Apartment…*

*Not really…

Graham & Green

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Anyone been noticing there’s some movement going on in Greenwich town centre streets in the last couple of weeks? I haven’t checked out Greenwich Boutique yet and I can’t check out that new place called Fresh-Something-Or-Other where the Organic Cafe used to be (it can’t, I gather, be a cafe, as that’s why the Organic Cafe reckon they got the boot, so I’m assuming it’s some kind of food store – either something along the lines of Fresh & Wild or, some dodgy mini-mart thing would be my guess.) The old dolls house and teddy bear shop gets ever-scruffier – it claims to be being turned into a china-painting place, though it’s certainly taking its time. Apostrophe is moving into the old Rococo store.

Warwick Leadlay left a big gap in Nelson Road. I know they’ve only moved next door, but it does tend to be a bit out-of-sight-out-of-mind for me these days. I miss their old shop.

The street-front store has become a sort of homewares-come-giftshop, hastily decorated for the Christmas crowd. Graham & Green is a chain – albeit a small one, with branches in the Kings Road, Notting Hill, Chalk Farm etc. Presumably it’s only chains that can afford the prices along Nelson Road these days. Still – it’s an open shop, and it’s not a multinational, and let’s face it – it looks very pretty – and makes the road look more lively.

It sells fancy mirrors and shiny nick-nacks – think a sort of grown-up Joy (another chain but our branch is really cute…) There are a lot of Christmas decorations in at the moment, and dainty stocking fillers to give girlfriends you don’t know very well. I liked the coloured glass tumblers with the silhouettes of mountainy-scenes, myself, and I may well be going back for some of the funky plastic wine glasses.

Downstairs they promise ‘bargains’ – and I guess that there was 20% off a load of stuff. Some nice homewares – a rather fab glass lamp and sundry soft furnishings, some occasional tables and screens, one or two items of clothing, door handles and soap dishes, candles and cushions; mainly in pink or white, it seems.

It’s good to see an empty shop filled – it goes a good way to making Nelson Road look halfway decent again (I note also that one of the few shops that didn’t actually need it, Pickwick Papers and Fabrics, have had a spruce up, which only leaves about a third of the street looking duff.) I’m not convinced that there is anything in Graham & Green I haven’t seen before – but sparkly stuff and bright lights – and, when I was in there, loads of customers – are the kind of thing I want to see in Greenwich rather than empty stores and ‘To Let’ signs.

Roll Up, Roll Up – Get Your Olympic Consultation Tickets Here!

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

For those of you who have been a bit alarmed by the seeming inability of LoCOG to get their story straight (so are those trees’ lower branches for the chop or not, then..?) then the Public meeting to discuss all Olympic and Paralympic activity in the borough between 7pm-9pm on Thursday 4th December is a bit of a must.

It’s to be at the Indigo, at the O2 – which is, ironically, now the only one of the three original venues in Greenwich (and the only one that actually seemed suitable IMHO, being a purpose-built entertainments area with excellent public transport and infrastructure) not to be employed any more.

It’s a ticketed event, but the tickets are free. Lizzie wrote to get some and passed the link onto me. Because not all of you can get hyperlinks, here it is in full:

While we’re about it, if you missed Andrew Gilligan’s article about the KPMG findings last week, it’s worth taking a peek.