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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Waltham Forest Poetry Competition (Poets Corner): "A Bright Future"


Our competition celebrates Waltham Forest as London’s first Borough of Culture in 2019. The theme is “A Bright Future” and the entries will be judged by local poet Meryl Pugh. The competition closes at midnight Friday 7th September this year.

(We have a lovely photo of Meryl) DIGITAL CAMERA

There are prizes!!!
The competition has three sections: National, Young Poets and a Local Prize for those living and working in the borough.

The prizes for the National Competition are: 1st prize (£300), 2nd (£200) and 3rd (£100). For the Young Poet and Local Competitions the prizes are identical: 1st (£50), 2nd (£30) and 3rd (£20).
For the National and Local Competitions there’s an entry fee of £3 for the first poem and £1 for each subsequent poem (up to a maximum of four entries). The Young Poets competition for young poets under the age of 18 is free to enter. Poems can be sent by post, email, or entered online.
There’ll be a prize giving and readings of the winning and short listed poems at Ye Old Rose and Crown in late October.

Do you have a favourite poem? If you would like to tell us about it in about 100-200 words we’ll feature it here. Email with a brief biog (couple of sentences).


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Clock and Watch Restoration - The Genius of Wood Street, Walthamstow E17 3HX

Those of you who follow me will know of my and my friend Peter's adventures in Antarctica in March. Besides the usual extreme climate stuff ( snow boots, masses of woollen clothing, hats and gloves)  I took my Oris Automatic watch with me. This watch has been everywhere. When my phone froze in Svalbard my watch didn't miss a beat. On my allotment it tick tocked away as I covered it in soil, sprayed it with bug killer and dropped it into a bucket of horse poo.

When I came back from the Southern pole it had stopped. Alas, I thought, it has succumbed to a mixture of penguin poo, sub zero ice and Drake's Passage. That was it  - dead. No doubt rusted solid or else encased in festering poo. It went into the "Irreclaimable" drawer by my bed. A drawer crammed full of victims of accidents, misfortunes and sheer bad luck. My twice dropped iPhone, the mini disc player that chewed up Bob Dylan and spat out The Cowboy Junkies. The Sony mini Walkman that never recovered from downloading from my desk top "Alien Ant Farm", and saddest of all my Window "Expedia" CD ROM - not damaged just back dated.

I would lift my left arm up and expecting to see a smiling clock face would find a bare wrist. Time and time I repeat the action and each time a knife would pierce my heart. I'd have to rummage around for my mobile - getting strange looks as I played pocket billiards retrieving the phone. For three months I endured this torture.

Why you ask? Why put myself through such agony? I will tell you why. A mate also had an Oris which he sent off to be serviced - it cost more than he paid for the watch in the first place. I may be a pensioner with an inflation proofed occupational and a triple locked State Pension but I'm not made of money. I resigned myself to being watch less.Except....

If once you've owned a nice mechanical watch you're hooked. I'd find myself looking on line at new Oris watches,walking down New Bond Street dreaming about going in and buying a disgustingly expensive timepiece. I even looked in pawn broker's window to see what they had on offer by way of a traded in Rolex. This couldn't go on. I was on the brink of nervous breakdown - my mainspring had been so over wound I was in danger of a total seizure.

Then I remembered there was a watch restorer in Wood Street, Walthamstow. That quiet backwater full of quaint shops and ghosts of ages past.

What was there to lose. Hesitantly I phoned him. Yes he repaired Oris watches and mine wasn't that old. Heart thumping, my main spring fully wound I headed for his workshop. I was shaking as I handed over the watch. It wasn't rusted, it wasn't dead - it needed a new shaft and a through cleaning and servicing but he'd repair it. I swear I heard Haydn's "Clock" Symphony when he said that.

Today I went to collect my watch. Cleaned, reset and full of joy and vim. I now risk suffering from repetitive lower arm strain since I look at it constantly. I am so pleased.

The man is a superstar. This morning he'd been out on an emergency call. A public clock in Higham Park had failed to chime. Len Pavitt, soft spoken, watch magician extraordinaire was there to restore the beating heart of a venerable timepiece. And he had time to fix my Oris!! A man in a million.

Walthamstow salutes you! 


Monday, 11 June 2018

"Open the take the money"

Frankly, I have to say that last week we slummed it theatre-wise. On Monday it was "Aladdin" and Wednesday it was "Quiz" at the Noel Coward Theatre.

That's not to say "Quiz" wasn't quite good. You may recall the trail of  Captain Charles William Ingram who in 2001 won a million pounds on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". He, his wife and Tecwen Whittock a lecturer were accused of cheating. For the uninitiated the show offered the contestant 4 answers to a question put to them by Chris Tarrant. The questions got harder and the prize money increased as the contestant correctly answered the preceding question. Charles Ingham got all the way to winning £1000,000 - not a small sum. Except he and his "accomplices" were accused of cheating. Ingram's was given a signal - a cough - which indicated the correct answer. 

The play was built around the court case - to my mind a connivance too far. We had the judge, prosecuting and defence councils and a jury - the theatre audience that night. And we had the game show - we were the TV show audience. Which meant that before the play/quiz proper began we had the warm up comedian. We, the audience, also had quiz sheets and a remote buzzer - as used on the show. 

In the  first half the play re-constructed the events leading up to the winning of the £ million as seen from the prosecution's case. It was a conspiracy. The Ingrams - in particular Mrs Ingrams - had found a way to get on the show and to win the fastest to the buzzer contest used to select the contestant for the main prize competition. It all seemed rather dodgy since both she and her brother had previously been on the game show and won £36,000 each. 

Captain Charles Ingram was pretty poor at quizzes - even though he'd had qualifications by the bucket load, but to ensure he'd always answer the questions correctly his wife and Whittock would be there with a helping hand - or more accurately - a cough. That was the claim brought against them and the first half played that out. 

In the second half it was the defence's turn. There was no conspiracy. There was masses of hard work to get on the show , win the buzzer round and then a huge amount of digesting useless facts to be able to answer the questions. Captain Ingram, despite his degree in Engineering, his MSc in Corporate Management and membership of Mensa, was shown to be pretty poor on the uptake when it came to quizzes. But a determined wife and lots of lucca at the end pushed him on. He was shown to be a diligent army officer and loving if ineffective husband.

At the end of the first Act we the audience, as jury, were asked to vote "Guilty or "Not Guilty" - we found them "Guilty by a landslide. After the Second Act a "Not Guilty" verdict was returned by the audience. That was it; we went home wondering what was the truth of the matter. 

In fact all three were were found guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court in April 2003. The trail wasn't straight forward in that originally the jury found the two men guilty of conspiracy but not Mrs Ingram. Since a charge of conspiracy requires all three accused of the crime to be found guilty the judge sent the jury away to reconsider. They changed their mind finding the wife also guilty.

Ingram was in court again the October of that year on fraud charges arising out of an insurance claim. He was found guilty. He was kicked out of the army, and wrote a highly successful book about his "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" adventures.

"Quiz" isn't really a play: more a theatrical event. The characters were slightly drawn, used to carry the story. Only the character of Chris Tarrant - whose facial expressions were grossly exaggerated - was of interest and the source of much laughter. It was a clever idea - although as I've already mentioned I thought the court scene effect was laboured. 

It was, hoawever, a couple of hours of good entertainment. What more can you ask for in the current climate?