Friday, 6 December 2013

Back From the (Almost) Dead

Been feeling a bit under the weather lately so
haven't managed to keep my dozens of readers entertained. Sorry if you have missed me.

I'm seriously thinking of making this a regular weekly blog rather than publishing whenever the mood takes me. Given a proper deadline would introduce a bit of discipline and structure to the thing.

Another Facebook Hoax

Today, I would like to start with another of those Facebook hoax messages about Muslims.

It follows on from my earlier post on the 23 October about the fake story of the kidnapping of a child from Croydon.

This is what it looks like by the way. I am told that I should share it as quickly as possible before Facebook deletes it.

The Facebook message fails to mention the name of the newspaper, the date it was printed or who it was doing the banning.

A fairly basic internet search will identify it as a copy of a Daily Express front page screamer printed in 2005 featuring a made up story of how Lambeth Council had banned Christmas on account of it offending Muslims.

How this story came about makes interesting reading and you can see it here at my favourite 'hoax busting' website.

Oliver Cromwell
Quite how Lambeth Council could have been able to ban Christmas even if they wanted to is not explained in the newspaper article. The only attempt to ban Christmas in England was during the Puritan Commonwealth era 1640s to 1660s. Even then it was met with much opposition and was eventually abandoned following the Restoration of Charles II. The reason why the authorities wanted to ban it was because, unlike today where Christmas is a time of quiet prayer and meditation, people were "turning the day into a feast, sinfully and wrongfully 'giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights'." The ban was incorrectly attributed to Oliver Cromwell although he would certainly have approved.

The correct headline should have read 


Closing Down

It seems that Blockbuster has finally breathed its last. 

After desperate attempts to keep the franchise open, it seems that the whole operation is to be wound up up by 20th December and Thamesmead will lose its one and only DVD rental outlet. You can still buy a fairly limited selection from Morrisons (if you can manage to get into the store past all the obstructions that is) and there are always the Chinese illegals selling fake ones outside Argos. (More about this later).

Back in the early 1980s, I rented my first VHS video recorder. In those days, buying electrical goods like TVs and Videos was prohibitively expensive so renting from companies like Radio Rentals was the usual option. I lived in Belvedere at the time and a new video rental shop opened in Picardy Road. Amazing as it may seem, you actually had to pay a membership fee to join and it was quite expensive - around £50 if memory serves plus the cost of renting the video on top of that. As more outlets opened, the competition soon ended that practice and the cost of renting a VHS tape and later, a DVD has hardly changed since the beginning. I remember when Blockbuster first appeared and with their massive resources were able to overwhelm any opposition and most of the small shops went out of business. 

I still wonder how such a big organisation managed to miss the arrival of the internet. With their market lead, they could have easily moved into the digital market but they just seemed to plug on with the old tried and tested operation until it went the way of the Dinosaur.

Closing Down II

Another local business to cease trading is theThamesview Golf Centre off Summerton Way which closed down on the 1st December. 

I admit I am not a fan of golf and have never used the facility so cannot comment on the quality of either the course or the club house. I did take some pictures of a wedding reception there a number of years ago and recall it being quite dirty and shabby although I'm told that it has been refurbished more recently.

In my ignorance, I had always assumed that owning a golf course was a license to print money and that you were more likely to go broke running a betting shop. I regularly walk past the driving range on my way to photograph the birds and have noticed that there never seemed to be many people using it. Quite why it has struggled to attract customers I don't know.

What is going to happen to it now I wonder? At the moment, the place is still wide open so if you fancy a round of golf, there doesn't seem to be anything stopping you just turning up and using the course. If it isn't going to be used as an open space any more, it could be taken up by more housing although it is a little too close to the sewage works for my liking.

Car Park Signs

I'm going to go back to one of my pet hates - signs in car parks written in such a way as to give the reader the impression they are worth more than the plastic they are written on.

While I was taking pictures of the soon to be defunct Blockbuster Video in Thamesmead Town Centre, I thought I would grab a few images of the parking signs posted about the place and have a grump about them. (Read the title of my blog).

The first are featured in the trading estate car park and have been put up by a company calling itself London Parking Solutions Ltd. Their car park signs give a PO Box Number as their address but it is actually 104 Colney Road, Dartford, DA1 1UH. According to their website they claim to provide a completely free service to their customers. The question is, how can they do this and make the business pay? The answer is to issue parking charge notices to unsuspecting motorists and hope they will pay up. In order to do this they need to make it as difficult as possible for the motorist to be aware that there are any regulations in the first place. Their signs, written in tiny lettering, are hard to see and are written in such a way as to make it look like they have some legal authority.

This one says that 'by parking here you are entering into a binding contractual agreement' but don't tell you what the agreement is. They don't explain how they are going to persuade a court that you have agreed to terms you know nothing about in the event you decide not to pay. The sign also says that you have to display an authorised parking permit without explaining how you would go about obtaining one.

The online payment system at is run by a firm of debt collectors called Roxburghe (UK) Ltd whose licence the Office of Fair Trading was 'Minded to Revoke' earlier this year. I wonder what happened?

The next sign is in the main car park in Thamesmead Town Centre.

I have made this image as large as it will go and you still cannot read the wording as it is so small.

A 'Parking Charge' is NOT a fine - there is actually no such thing as a parking fine. What they call a Parking Charge is just a speculative invoice. Parking in such a way that the land owner has not given permission is no more than civil trespass and the land owner could only recover damages actually incurred. The companies mentioned on both these notices have no 'Lawful Possession' of the land and so cannot demand a penalty or damages, nor can they offer any contract with the motorist. If anyone has received a demand for money from these or any car park management company should get advice. This is a good place to start

I think if the owners of these car parks put as much effort into ridding us of the Chinese illegal immigrants trying to sell us fake DVDs as they do in persecuting motorists then I might be a little more sympathetic.

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