Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Phantom Holding Pattern

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Folks, I’m sorry about this extended ‘holiday’. Sadly there is an awful lot going on in Phantom Land at the moment and I am simply unable to post. I AM reading all your mail – there’s great, fascinating and shocking stuff in there. I’d love to discuss it all with you – and I will – but not now.

One thing I need to clear up. Some people have asked why comments are turned off – this is nothing to do with censorship, personal blocking or any other kind of consipiracy. It’s just to do with spam-management – comments automatically turn off after 14 days to prevent spam-bots posting random posts about mail-order brides, knock-off trainers and fake university degrees.

I will be back as soon as I am physically able to be.

Posting ‘Holiday’

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Folks, please accept my sincerest apologies for not posting recently. I’m afraid the situation demands I take a short break from haunting. Please keep an eye out – I WILL be back and as soon as possible – I have important things to discuss with you – but the next couple of weeks, perhaps longer, are not going to see much in the way of Phantom activity.

Sorry :-(

Bad News for Anyone Who Ever Wanted to Just Get Home…

Monday, July 7th, 2014


RE: Sainsbury’s and Former Comet Stores, 55 & 57 Bugsby’s Way, Greenwich, SE10

The request made to the Secretary of State to call in the above proposal was carefully considered against the call in policy as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of 26 October 2012. It was decided that it should not be called in and that the application should be left to London Borough of Greenwich Council to determine.

I appreciate that this is not the preferred outcome for you and I understand that there will be great disappointment as a result. It is however, now for London Borough of Greenwich Council to determine this application.

So basically,be prepared to avoid the Blackwall Tunnel area for the next few years until IKEA is finally burned down by some crazed Michael Douglas type. My bet is it will be a Saturday afternoon, though frankly I’m taking odds on Sundays or perhaps a bank holiday.


Friday, June 27th, 2014

Photo:Mike Purdy

Mike spotted these chaps giving the Cutty Sark a spring clean which in this weather must be hot work but better than being stuck in an office…

Photo: Mike Purdy

Perhaps just a teeny bit less glamorous but nevertheless important, our friend Alan Driscoll, Greenwich’s local handyman, has been sprucing up some bollards around town.

Photo: Alan Driscoll

If there’s any little sprucery in the town centre that you think Alan and his team could do to make the place look better drop me a line and I’ll pass it on to him…

Blue Badge Warning…

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

As a relatively mobile Phantom I have never known rules and regulations of the Blue Badge parking scheme. I do know that it’s supposed to allow easy access to people with disabilities, which is why I’m always scrupulous about never parking in disabled bays at Sainsbury’s even when it’s 2.00am and I’m the only one there. Likewise it bugs the hell out of me when others aren’t so thoughtful – I confess to a sneaking satisfaction when I was walking through Sainsbury’s car park recently and saw a builder’s pick up truck in a disabled space that had been clamped…

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I’m letting you know (rather late, the email went astray – folks, do send stuff to me via the address on the page rather than via the Phantom Webmaster as it can slip through the net – about an experience a blue badge holder had in the car park in Greenwich High Road, next to the main post office.

It has recently been taken over by a private parking firm, apparently, VJC Parking management. Mr G has been a blue badge holder for many years and has always been allowed to park there free of charge. VJC have changed the rules and now blue badge holders have to pay, but instead of advertising the fact clearly, they are waiting for the holder to display their badge, then issue a PCN while the holder’s away.

Now, presumably, there is a notice actually on the signs, but if you’ve been parking there for years, it’s easy to miss changes in a sign. Mr G did his usual thing – parked up, nipped into the post office for a couple of minutes, and came out to see a warden in the middle of issuing a fine. The parking attendant told Mr G he had watched Mr G displaying the badge – which sort of goes to show they’re not up for just telling people they can’t park for free, they just want the cash.

I guess the issue here is not the parking charge as such, blue badges are supposed to allow access, not necessarily free access, it’s the way people are informed.

If I was a Phantom Parking Attendant I’d be rubbish at my job – I’d feel the need to tell someone if a rule had changed that they needed to know about. There’s deliberately taking the Michael, like the builder vans in disabled spaces – and there’s genuine mistakes. I like to think I’d know the difference.

So – just be careful if you have a blue badge, eh, folks. READ THE NOTICE!

The Phantom Gets Out of Bed the Wrong Side

Friday, January 31st, 2014

I know, I know, I’ve been dreadful about updating the Parish News. I have no idea how the amazing IanVisits does it, but my news always looks a mess and is almost never up to date. It’s like being the scruffy kid at school that no matter what they do their shirt’s always untucked, a button’s missing off the blazer, their hair looks like a pile of old hay and their tie’s on the squonk.

One of these days I’ll create some kind of calendar or algorhythm to make it all easy but for now, the best I can do is aim to update it once a month and since tomorrow is the 1st Feb, I’m just squeaking in here updating it today.

There are many reasons why I hate updating Parish News. Of course part of it is that no one likes inputting data, even for hard cash, and believe me, there’s no bloomin’ cash involved in Parish News.

But the main reason I hate it is the many and varied formats I get listings in. If only people could be clear and concise, like the good burghers or St Alfege and the National Maritime Museum, who send stuff in clear format:

  • What’s on
  • A TINY bit about the event
  • When it’s on
  • How much
  • How to book
  • A website for more info

That’s all you need. Ideally Third Person and without jolly ‘call to action’ bits that I’m only going to cut out anyway.  If it was all like that it would be a dream. Instead I get all manner of ‘press releases’, perky emails and chancers. I know that the real culprits – the professional ‘PR agencies’ who spam every blog on the planet with the same old junk – won’t read this but even the locals – please look and see if you are guilty of any of the following:

1) long, waffly emails with press releases at least three pages long

2) ‘Chummy’ emails that I have to sift through for the information and reformat – however much I like you I just don’t have the hours in the day

3)’Art-Speak’ where even after the long waffle and the three-page press release I still  have absolutely no idea what the event actually is.

4) Stuff with no relevance at all to Greenwich. I regularly get emails about events in Wales, Australia and Brimingham. To be honest anything that’s not within a 5-mile radious of Greenwich is probably not relevant enough for this blog, sorry. Some things that REALLY captivate me might sneak in. I usually discover these for myself though

5) Non-cut-and-pasteable PDFs. These usually contain minute detail that I’m going to have to painstakingly copy out longhand. Not only will it put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day, but I am bound to make mistakes.

6) Chunks of important information in the title of the email. Again this means I have to manually type out all the details and I’ll probably get it wrong in the transfer

7) Emails with nothing but the instruction to go to some stranger’s website. I’m not going to do it. Full stop.

8 ) Out and out adverts. It doesn’t help when PRs try to sweeten the pill by being all faux-coy – ‘I’m being cheeky here but I know you won’t mind me telling you all about this amazing new headlice cream.’ I will.

9) Press releases where winkling out what is actually going from all the superlatives, namechecks and quotes takes all day. Knowing that Gordon Prong has done the lighting and Joe Blogs is responsible for the choreography should go in the ‘any other business’, not the nuts and bolts.

10) Too many bells, whistles, funky scripts, images, ‘cool’ styling and other gizmos that a) it takes ages to upload  and b) I can’t work out what the hell is the most important stuff.

There are two establishments which shall remain anonymous who send me stuff on a very regular basis that I have NEVER put into Parish News because their newsletters are so complicated I lose the will to live before I can find the actual information. I am convinced  these places are so busy making their newsletters into works of art they have forgotten the bottom line – they are letters of NEWS. I will come and see the art if I can work out when and where it’s on. If you’re worried that that I might be describing you, I probably am.

11) Listings in video format. No really, I get them. I’m expected to sit and watch a promo video and then write some scintillating copy from that, sifting out the details and writing it all down. It isn’t going to happen. I might, if I am very ‘kind’ upload the video, but the chances of anyone else watching it without knowing what it is are slim.

12) Listings where the only info is to be found on Facebook. I don’t do FB and I am not going to sign up just so I can find your event.

If I just got one or two of these a day, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I get dozens of the bloomin’ things and just sifting through them takes time, and means that the good guys (GDA is another ‘good’ listings supplier…) have to wait in line with the annoying people. In the end I just get frustrated, everything gets a ‘star’ for me to deal with later, things happen in the day and they  end up languishing in my inbox for months.

So please – I know your event is the best thing ever, but even for something incredible there is such a thing as too much information. Keep it brief. If I get so excited about it I want to actually add it to the main blog, believe me I’ll be all over you like a particularly nasty rash.

This might sound conceited, and I really don’t mean it to be. But it’s just taken me an entire morning when I should actually have been doing proper work just to sift through my starred items and you don’t know the guilt when I haven’t replied to things or dealt with them in time so that the event’s already been and gone by the time I get round to it. If only I could get the basic listings more uniform, I’d have more time to deal with the really curious one-off questions, which can get lost among the listings.

Don’t get me wrong – I DO want to hear about things. It’s just much more helpful if it’s in a form I can easily deal with.

Several people today have had red-faced emails from me apologising for not replying to their ‘any other business’ emails as they’d got lost among the listings. There are more to come. Soz.

Grouch over. I won’t come back to this subject for at least a week, I promise.

Happy 2014

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year Folks!

It’s going to be an interesting year – there are several developments we need to keep an eye on – but also some very exciting innovations I’m beginning to hear about, projects that could be very interesting and – well, there’s always so much to discover in Greenwich. Let’s do it together…

Here’s hoping I’ll be able to keep on top of things better in 2014 than I did in 2013. My resolutions for this year include updating the Parish News more often, dealing with the postbag more efficiently (sorry if you’re still in that enormous queue,  if it helps I feel VERY guilty about it…) and posting more regularly.

Do feel free to kick me up the cloak on these, but in the meanwhile, Happy New Year…


IKEA Consultation Reminder

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Quick reminder that IKEA are holding a consultation about its proposals to open a branch where the Sainsburys is on the peninsula.

It’s at the Forum tomorrow, Sat 9th November 2013

12.00pm- 7.00pm

If you’re thinking of going, here are some thoughts I (and others) had about it when I first heard of the project.

A petition

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Right folks, on my way out of the door, so can’t stop, but I’ve been asked to tell you about yet another petition, this one about the humungous size of the Lovell’s Wharf development which was given planning permission for one size and has gone for the back-door route for something altogether different – and enlarging the original by a third. We’ve spoken about it before and I thought it was too late to object, but apparently it isn’t so if you’re so inclined, here is the link

Sorry, by the way, about the hap-hazard posting recently and if you’ve sent me mail and I haven’t replied. Life is such that Phantomising isn’t as easy as it could be.

Right – I’m off for a few days. Happy weekend, all.

Greenwich Park, Its History and Associations

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

I realised the other day when I was writing about the little Greenwich Park entrance tokens that I’ve not actually ever talked specifically about the seminal Greenwich Park book (I could have sworn I did but then my brain’s not all there just now and there are nearly 2600 posts in the archives to wade through, gulp…)

AD Webster was the superindentent of the park in Late Victorian/early Edwardian times/ and part of a doughty group of antiquarians very active in investigating Greenwich’s past – I note in the foreward that he thanks a Mr. H. Richardson – I assume that he is this Henry Richardson who wrote another Greenwich history nearly seventy years beforehand and who would have been 91 by this point. The book is published by Richardson’s Greenwich press.

The splendidly bearded chap in the picture is probably Webster – he and a lady friend are inspecting the Roman excavations in the park in the very year his book was published.

Like several of the publications from that period, the book grew out of a talk he gave to the Blackheath Natural History Society and, for my money, it’s still the best (though not the prettiest – that honour has to go to Anthony Quiney‘s photographic record of a year in Greenwich Park.)

It covers everything from history to archaeology, tittle-tattle to flora and fauna, folklore to underground passages. The latter are slightly better described than in John Stone’s pamphlet from a few years later, though still not as well as I’d like.

Our problem is that in the early years of the last century, the underground passages were, if not officially open to all (though some of them seem to have been) not closed. So the writers of the time assumed their readers had already explored underground and didn’t describe them as exhaustively as I’d have liked.

Now, I only know of two people who have explored underground Greenwich to any great extent in very recent times so most of us either rely on Dominic and Per – or go to 100 year-old sources such as Webster and Stone, who at least seem to have a new nugget of something every time I re-read – this time I noticed a reference to a passage that opened with ‘wide stone steps’ at Queen Elizabeth’s Oak. I knew about a load of underground tunnels in the park but hadn’t registered that one. Neat.

And that’s why I think it’s worth seeking this book out. It’s not actually that hard to find because although at one point it became quite rare, it was reprinted in 1971 which watered down the market and made it accessible again. You’ll not have too much trouble finding it at Amazon Marketplace, ebay, Abebooks etc.

They’re both good editions and although it’s always nice to have an original, there’s no great reason to buy the older book over the new – you won’t justify your cash. They’re both hardback, good quality and have the same number of illustrations – both photos and drawings. The only difference I can see is that the map inside the cover of the original has the park coloured in in green, the 1971 version’s completely black & white.

If you’re building a library of Greenwich books, I’d recommend this as one of the must-haves. Look to pay around £20 for an original and around a tenner for the reprint. I’d go for the reprint. If you’re not feeling flush just now, it is available as a PDF courtesy of Toronto University.