About Me

"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Friday, 19 September 2014

I'm not even a little bit keen on Waitrose: there, I said it.

I was going to use a harder-hitting headline: I hate Waitrose.

I was moved to do this by discovering that La Bella Sicilia in Warwick Way, Pimlico, one of the few decent, unpretentious Italian delicatessens remaining in London,  has been replaced by a "Little Waitrose".

It's quite a big little Waitrose, and it's directly opposite, as is so often the case, a small Tesco Metro, and just around the corner from a big Sainsburys. So, badly needed, then.

On reflection I realised that it's almost impossible to hate Waitrose - even a class warrior, who might
This new "Little Waitrose" in Warwick Way, Pimlico, London SW1 is not little enough for my liking
well despise it for its unapologetic middle-classness, middle-of-everything approach (and its mystifying support for Duchy Originals) - would have to admit it's got a better record on employment rights and ethical behaviour than any of the other supermarkets.

So it supplies a decent dollop of middle class guilt along with the hummus, if, like me, you avoid it for purely selfish reasons.  By which I mean the fact that it charges a great deal more for most of the things I like (notably red wine but also cashew nuts, figs, Pecorino cheese, and red grapefruit). Waitrose is just too nice, too honest, to clean, too well-intentioned, too fair, too sensible, to be entirely true.

 But that does not stop it muscling in on high street slots where it is not necessarily welcomed.

Another reason I object to Waitrose is that it's possibly the worst offender in the use of annoyingly unnecessary adjectives in its marketing and labelling.

It's not just basil but "majestic basil". Not plain oregano, but "sun kissed" oregano. Their own-brand chocolate spread has, it seems, to be "seriously chocolaty".


Why does everything have to be given silly little adjectival pre-fixes? Why can't we just have tomato and basil soup,  rather than "aromatic, heart-warming" soups?

OK, this is all minor stuff. They say, what would you prefer, a scuzzy old cornershop with mouse droppings under the biscuits and cockroaches around the chilled cabinets, stale bread and manky fruit, or this sweet little Waitrose?

I'd rather have the scuzzy old cornershop, thank you very much indeed.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Oh the horror! Roundabout succumbs to Nine Elms ravages

Watch out, Nine Elms Disease is coming your way.

It's spreading fast, its viral spores shunted around at speed by massive concrete mixer-trucks that rush up and down Silverthorne Road, spilling a little of their load as they go. If you're a cyclist, you are quite likely to get one of their little pebbles shot into your eye from under the fat tyre of a speeding car.

I'm astonished the council (Lambeth or Wandsworth?) hasn't stepped in to do something about the destruction of the road surfaces, particularly at the junction of Silverthorne and Wandsworth Road and down by the one-way junction of Silverthorne and Queenstown Roads.

This is where the trucks - which have just feasted on fresh ready-mixed concrete from the massive silos of McALpine's London Concrete Ltd - storm off in a cloud of dust to dump the material at some building site or other.

But the latest horror is the speed with which it has destroyed that perfectly harmless old floral roundabout hub at the south-east entrance to Battersea Park.

It's hard top cycle through any of this area at the moment because the air is so full of dust. When they were destroying the old MArco Polo House, it felt like sharp bits of marble were shredding the linings of your throat and lungs. Now it's the powdery cement dust sieved over everything by those speeding dumper-trucks and mixer-lorries.

God help us, residents of SW8, 4, and 11. God help us one and all.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Nine Elms Disease spreads west: the demolition of Battersea Power Station's chimneys

A strange slow motion spectacle is unfolding three hundred feet above the terraced slums and industrial wastelands of Battersea, south west London.

The developers of the new riverside ghetto of luxury apartments and embassies is, as promised, carefully dismantling the first of the four cast-concrete legs of the Giles Gilbert Scott's upside-down kitchen table.

There's a strange green cage around the top of the chimney, and it is gradually sinking, maybe only a few feet each day.

Apparently the people responsible for all this - Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) - are going to replace the chimneys with replicas, "using the same techniques and materials". Looking forward to seeing these going up - but somehow can't imagine that the sight of the power station will ever again be the same. 

Like so much of the rest of London now, the rough edges, the decay, the patina of decades, the ingrained dirt, the cracks and the weeds - all that will be gone. Nine Elms disease, unlike most natural blights - does not leave scars and blemishes - it does the reverse, it abolishes them, leaving just a bland Hollywood style film-lot.