Sunday 20 November 2016

Eltham Lights Up 2016 and celebrates Roald Dahl this time

Willy Wonka and his Oompa Loompas come to Eltham!
Central London may have had its switching on of the Christmas lights last Thursday but for many families and residents in a certain south-east London suburb, the annual Eltham Lights Up event was the place to be.

Organised by Royal Greenwich Borough, this much loved Lantern Parade in Eltham High Street and the switching on of its own Christmas lights is well attended by locals. In the weeks leading up to it, local primary school children make illuminated lanterns which are proudly paraded behind their school banner. The event was also part of the Eltham Arts Winter Festival 2016 which ran from 29 October to 20 November and showcased over 150 arts events in Eltham this year. In fact, Eltham Arts's own Festival Finale takes place today, 20 Nov, at the White Hart.

This year's Lights Up theme was Roald Dahl on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday. Emergency Exit Arts, an arts organisation based in nearby Greenwich, which specialises in using visual performance, processions, puppetry and pyrotechnics, brought alive characters from Dahl's enduring children's books. They joined lots of gleeful lantern-toting children (and parents!) to celebrate this annual festive occasion now in its 17th year.

Here's my short film of this year's Eltham Lights Up thrown together from my footage:
I remember first attending this event when our two children were pre-school aged and were beside themselves with excitement waving glow sticks, watching the colourful parade and then the finale fireworks from the top of the M&S building. In subsequent years they've paraded with the Gordon Primary School, arriving early to assemble in what was then the playground of the nearby Church of England School in Roper Street, now the subject of scaffolding and the erection of a new building on this historic site just behind the High Street.

Now young teens, our children are naturally more concerned to 'hang out' with their friends wandering around trying to buy the best hot chocolate, leaving me to enjoy the parade from a different perspective.

Despite concerns about the effect on this event of the current improvements being made to Eltham High Street, the Council rushed to have it ready to host the Lights Up event and luckily succeeded. However, after some previous cases of hot falling debris, the fireworks have for the last couple of years been replaced by other finales, this year some fiery shooting musical flames. There was also musical entertainment laid on across three stages - on Passey Place, next to St Mary's and in the Eltham Leisure Centre - this years' acts included the Pytchwood folk duo, the band Little Beach, the teen boy band Decks and Quatrz, the Eltham hill School Choir and the Rock Choir. Welcome though this was, it made it difficult to get round and see them all!

People persevered through the early heavy rain and were rewarded with dry, crisp weather in time for the switching on and the parade itself. And so another Eltham Lights Up comes to an end marking the start of Christmas.

Other local lighting up events include:

Woolwich Winter Warmer
Saturday 26 November, 1pm to 5.30pm - General Gordon Square and Powis Street, SE18

Greenwich Christmas Festival
Saturday 3 December 12pm to 6pm - Cutty Sark Gardens, SE1

My posts on previous Eltham Lights Up events:
Eltham Lights Up 2012
Eltham Lights Up 2011
Eltham Lights Up 2010
Eltham Lights Up 2009

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Viceroy's House: film about India-Pakistan 1947 partition

Really looking forward to 'Bend It Like Beckham' director Gurinder Chadha's next film, Viceroy's House, due out next year. It certainly has a cracking cast in Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Simon Callow, Om Puri and Huma Qureshi :

Gurinder Chadha's films are always a treat especially to second-gen onwards Brit-Asians such as myself though they certainly have a wider appeal.  I also happen to hail from the director's same West London suburb and from a Sikh-Punjabi background so her material particularly resonates with me and it's always interesting to see what she's homing in on. Every Punjabi family has a partition story - I'm curious to see how she handles hers and how she mediates it within the grammar of film-making and the demands of commercial cinema.

In a more recent interview from this month, this time an event at America's Clark University, we learn that:

"Chadha is currently in the post-production phase of her film, “Viceroy’s House,” which will be released in 2017. The film chronicles the British partition of India and Pakistan, and the intertwining of many cultural perspectives during a controversial time in South Asian history. “I was very clear that this is a film made by a British Punjabi; it’s very much that perspective,” said Chadha. “No Indian could have made it, and no Pakistani could have made it, and no white British could have made it.”

Viceroy’s House” tells Chadha’s family history. “When I was growing up I had come to understand that partition happened because it was our fault — that we Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims couldn’t get on with each other,” Chadha recalled. “There was violence and the British had no option but to divide the country. … As a result I had somehow felt that the loss of a homeland was a result of my ancestors’ fault.” Chadha said that when archived historical documents eventually became public, she and her family learned the partition was a political act."

Read more from this event here.

Friday 11 November 2016

38* votes wins it: Eltham North by-election

Photo: Charlie Davis (right) just declared winner; Simon Peirce, on left with Eltham's Clive Efford MP
So following a hard-fought by-election in this very marginal ward, Charlie Davis has been elected the third Councillor in the Eltham North Ward to join existing Councillors Linda Bird (Labour) and Spencer Drury (Conservative). Congratulations.

The Eltham North (Greenwich) results:

Browne (Green) - 110.      3.5% (-6.0)
Davis (Con) - 1335.         42.2% (+10.6)   1st
Macaulay (LD) - 279.        8.8% (+5.5)
Peirce (Lab) - 1279 1297  40.4% (+9.3)     2nd
Ray (UKIP) - 160.               5.1% (-14.5)
Spoilt: 5

Reflecting the previous ward election results, the 1st and 2nd candidates came nail-bitingly close with only 56 38 votes separating them. Typically of by-elections, the turnout was low at 31.33% (it was 50.26% in 2014) with total votes cast 3,185 from a total electorate of 10,167.

Notably, the UKIP vote collapsed from 1,221 in 2014 to 160 this time and the Lib Dems show no sign of a come back. (see Comments below)

Cllr Davis will have his hands full with the current list of issues being raised by Eltham residents.

We can all now get back to being aghast at the American election results or starting Christmas shopping...

My posts on the lead up to this by-election here:
"Let's make Westmount Rd great again" or the Eltham North by-election

Eltham North by-election 2016: candidates declared

Who will 'Wynn' it? Eltham North by-election coming up 

This post originally published at 11/11/16 12.45am had the first candidate winning by 56 votes.
I took the figures from the Royal Greenwich twitter feed (as did a number of media outlets I see). But different and, as it turned out, correct figures were posted later on the Council website – the Labour candidate had in fact won 1,297 votes therefore the difference between 1st and 2nd candidates was even closer at 38. So there you have it. Thanks to 'Anonymous' in the comments.

Here’s the confirmation from Twitter:

and the website:

Wednesday 9 November 2016

“Let’s make Westmount Rd great again” or the Eltham North by-election

Never mind the end of times in the USA where a divisive, sexist, xenophobic celebrity billionaire has just been elected to represent ‘ordinary people’. All eyes, well local if not quite international, now turn to the by-election due to held tomorrow in the very marginal Eltham North ward in the Royal Greenwich Borough.

No fears here, I assume, of vote-rigging, grabbing furry feline animals or calls for hanging your opponent. At least, none that we know of.

It all seems a rather more sedate affair with some thoroughly nice chaps, and one rather quiet chap-ess.
I’ve blogged previously on the list of candidates and the recent electoral history of the ward. By now you’ve read their leaflets promising motherhood and apple pie. Issues currently exercising locals include developments in Eltham High Street including the new Cinema and the old favourite, parking restrictions. The Conservatives have the extra field to play in – criticism of the Labour-run home Council while Labour has additionally played to its NHS strengths and being able to work with the Labour Mayor on transport. Other issues include ‘better sports facilities’, more ‘starter homes’, ‘safety on our local roads’ and ‘new [outdoor] play equipment’ (Time, being totally distracted by a certain Festival and the USA result has meant no time for fuller analysis here…)

Meanwhile social media has meant that the citizens of Eltham have been able to quiz candidates directly. A recent entry to the lists of issues has been the discovery of an early morning licencing application by Vue Cinema with various candidates responding on Twitter to residents’ fears of a ‘Nightmare on Eltham High Street’, promising to listen to their concerns.
Candidates have also been asked by community group Eltham Arts how they would support the arts in Eltham – those that replied were positive, of course.

So who will replace Labour's Wynn Davies? Will it be Labour’s Simon Peirce, the Tory’s Charlie Davis or the Lib Dem Sam Macaulay? Vote tomorrow, 10 Nov.

*With thanks to Patrick Kidd for this great slogan for the Eltham North by-election which I spotted on his twitter feed: