Thursday, 27 September 2012

'Best of Luck' Horace.

It is with deep sadness that I have just heard of the demise of Horace, one of the great characters of Finchley and North London. He spent over thirty years wishing people ‘The best of Luck’ at all hours of the day and night, while usually dragging a large suitcase around with him.
 He was usually in great humour except when kids tried to rile him by calling him Stanley.
He regularly bought records when I had a shop in East Finchley and always greeted me on the street with a shout of ‘Hello Geezer’ and ‘The Best of Luck’ as we departed.
Someone told me recently that he was also quite a good artist.
He will be missed.

Here is a report from the Richard Osley blog:

BEST of luck, best of luck and the best of luck again… Poor old Horace. Or poor old Stanley, it wasn’t ever quite clear what his real name actually was. I just know that calling him Stanley would always trouble Horace, sometimes triggering angry shouting, which was sad because he spent most of his life wishing people good things, wishing people ‘the best of luck’.
As news of his sudden death filters through north London – it is reported that Horace collapsed close to the Whittington Hospital on his way to an appointment on Monday - some people will know him as the guy who did just that. He wished them the ‘best of luck’. Always the best of luck. Everybody and anybody would get wished the best of luck. He must have been wishing the people of Finchley, Barnet, Muswell Hill and Camden Town the best of luck going on for 30 years. No wonder a north London legend grew around him.
He was one of the characters of the streets who help thread together what is really London’s collective patchwork of a story, people who, without ever planning to, become better known than our local politicians and breed warmer familiarity than some of our celebrity neighbours. I might not know you, you might not know me, but chances are we’ve both been wished the best of luck by Horace at some point, whether you remember it or not.

I don’t know much about his life story, his tale is largely rooted in Barnet. I hope he got help where he needed it. I guess everybody liked the idea of somebody devoting their time to wishing complete strangers the best of luck, an upbeat message sometimes whispered, often bellowed. It made us smile, without thinking too deeply about the troubles that a man who stood outside a fast food shop or the post office shouting the best of luck repeatedly could be facing. The saddest thing is that some people didn’t just smile, nor did they stop for a chat. They taunted him. Some people actively tried to trigger his angrier side, calling him Stanley despite his distress. Others tried to goad his catchphrase out of him, behind adolescent cackles. Search his name on YouTube and the footage doesn’t really tell his story.

It’s a curious thing, hard to explain, but it’s only after you read that somebody like Horace has died that you realise how they play, albeit inadvertently, such binding roles in our communities. Somebody on Facebook compared Horace’s ever presence to the ravens at the Tower of London. Here was a man who never seemed to age, never changed his greeting and always seemed to be there as the shops, people and technology around us changed. There is a quality in that which is difficult to define.
There are other people like this, sort of living their lives in public, sometimes without choice due to their housing needs, but becoming part of all of our worlds. We look on, but rarely intervene. The fondness for Horace reminds me of the affection felt for Ushi Bahler, the woman who lived on the doorstep of the home she had been evicted from in West Hampstead for many years, despite her advancing age. The door locked, she lived among her saved possessions in the front yard. You see similar affection too for the shaven haired Big Issue seller who pushes a trolley around Camden Town selling bits and bobs. Unplanned, these people enter our minds and memories in a way that the man in the office suit who gets the same bus as you at the same time every day, sitting in a seat nearby, can’t.
Another example: the Big Issue seller outside Angel who got on with his work with a cat curled up around his shoulders. Every crook of London has people we all recognise collectively without ever really knowing. The Lion of South End Green is another example.
Given this curious neighbourhood fame – Horace has 4,000 6,000 ‘likes on Facebook’ and a petition for a bench marking his memory – maybe we should stop for a chat more often. Maybe at least we should make sure the YouTube footage is kinder.
The best of luck, Horace, the best of luck.


The real weather report.

The real weather report - what it would look like if they were honest

Monday, 24 September 2012

Revealed: Monsanto GM corn caused tumors in rats

French scientists have revealed that rats fed on GMO corn sold by American firm Monsanto, suffered tumors and other complications including kidney and liver damage. When testing the firm’s top brand weed killer the rats showed similar symptoms.
The French government has asked its health and safety agency to assess the study and had also sent it to the European Union's food safety agency, Reuters reports.
"Based on the conclusion…, the government will ask the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health, measures that could go as far as an emergency suspension of imports of NK603 maize in the European Union," the French health, environment and farm ministries said in a joint statement.
Researchers from the University of Caen found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to amounts of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller – or given water mixed with the product, at levels permitted in the United States – died earlier than those on a standard diet.
The research conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his colleagues, said the rats suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The study was published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London.
Fifty percent of male and 70 percent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group, said the researchers.
Monsanto spokesman, Thomas Helscher, said the company would review the study thoroughly but stated that other scientific studies had proved the biotech crops’ safety.
Some scientists however criticized the French researchers’ statistical methods and the use of a particular type of rat, saying the albino Sprague-Dawley strain of animal had a tendency to develop cancers.
But despite skepticism, the study draws attention to controversy surrounding genetically modified crops and the US biotech giant Monsanto.
Michael Antoniou, a molecular biologist at King’s College London – who acted as an adviser to Seralini's team – told reporters that the study stresses the “need to test all GMO crops in two-year lifelong studies”.
“I feel this data is strong enough to withdraw the marketing approval for this variety of GMO maize temporarily, until this study is followed up and repeated with larger number of animals to get the full statistical power that we want,” he said as quoted by Reuters.
Last Friday France said it will uphold a ban on genetically modified crops produced by the Monsanto. The move came as President Francois Hollande pushed his plan to put the environment back at the top of the international agenda.
In the wake of the publication, Jose Bove, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s commission for agriculture, called for an immediate suspension of all EU cultivation and import authorizations of genetically modified crops.
This study finally shows we are right and that it is urgent to quickly review all GMO evaluation processes,” he said following the announcement of the research.
While being widely used in the United States, GMO crops have been less popular among European consumers, due to concerns about its impact on people’s health and the environment.
In California, opponents of genetically engineered food are fighting to have it removed from the food supply. They are also pushing to pass Proposition 37, a law that would legally require genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. Monsanto stands opposed to such a proposal and has donated over $4.2 million to lobby against it.
Agriculturalists across America have previously tried to take the biotech giant to court over charges stemming from their lab-made corn GMOs. Over 2,000 farmers have petitioned the US government to more thoroughly investigate the impact that genetically modified corn crop from Monsanto will have on the country.
As RT reported before, Monsanto wants to plant a corn variant across America’s Midwest that will be resistant to a powerful pesticide produced with 2,4-D, the same compound crucial to the make-up of the notorious Vietnam War-era killer Agent Orange. If approved, the new corn will be able to thrive as farmers douse their fields in the chemical, killing off unwanted weeds in the process, while at the same time subjecting Americans to a pesticide linked to cancer risks.

Assembly calls for end to plastic bag giveaway

Assembly calls for end to plastic bag giveaway The London Assembly has called on the Government to introduce a mandatory charge on all single-use plastic bags in light of supermarkets’ failure to cut the number they give out to shoppers.

The motion, agreed[1] unanimously by Assembly Members, urges the Secretary of State for the Environment to enact reserve legislation, part of the Climate Change Act 2008, that would force retailers to introduce a levy on all single-use plastic bags.

According to figures from the waste reduction body Wrap, supermarket customers used almost eight billion carrier bags in 2011, a 5.4 per cent rise on the 7.6 billion in 2010, with each person using an average of almost 11 a month[2].

Jenny Jones AM, who proposed the motion, said:
"Free supermarket plastic bags are a myth; they cost us a lot money to deal with as damaging rubbish. Almost 1.5bn are given out in London every year, most destined to be used for no more than 20 minutes before being thrown away.

"The shame is that discarded bags are one of the easiest environmental problems to solve a simple levy introduced in Ireland cut their number by 90 per cent yet in England, the number being given out by the big supermarkets is actually rising.

"Supermarkets have failed cut plastic bag use voluntarily. We now need decisive action."

Murad Qureshi AM, who seconded the motion, said:

"You just have to go down the foreshore of the Thames to see the damage discarded plastic bags can do to our environment. Single-use plastic bags take decades to break down and are a hazard to plants and animals as well as being an eye sore for visitors and residents alike.

"England is clearly falling behind the rest of the UK on this issue. Wales has already introduced a charge, with Scotland and Northern Ireland due to follow suit. The Mayor pledged to introduce a levy on single-use plastic bags in the run up to the Olympics, I hope he hasn’t forgotten about it."

Andrew Boff AM, who successfully amended the motion, said:

"We recognize that these are difficult times for small business so it is essential that any levy on single-use bags does not put an unnecessary burden on them. However, there is no excuse for the incredible waste we witness everyday from the big supermarket chains.

"As it does not look like they the supermarkets are about to change their ways, its time for the Government to intervene. A small charge, introduced in the right way, could make a big difference."

The full text of the amended motion agreed at today’s meeting reads as follows:

"This Assembly notes the failure of supermarkets to prevent an increase in the number of single use plastic bags issued by them, through voluntary measures, over the past two years. It also notes the London Assembly's 2007 report[3], 'Bag to Basics', which supported the introduction of a national levy on single use carrier bags.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to request that the Secretary of State for the Environment enacts the reserve legislation in place under the Climate Change Act 2008, and introduces a mandatory charge on all single use carrier bags, ensuring that small businesses are protected from any additional administrative burden."

The motion was agreed unanimously at a meeting of the full Assembly. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Alastair Cowan in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4504/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Green Room write-up in Camden New Journal

'THE SMALL FACTS OF HISTORY': Why Green Room could be London's most curious shop

Noel Lynch
The Green Room manager Noel Lynch: 'We’re all the time looking for something that’s a bit unusual'
Published: 30 August, 2012
Dinosaur turds, ‘Devil’s Toenails’, Thatcherabilia – The Green Room has it all,as SIMON WROE discovered
"IN the mountains of truth you never climb in vain,” declares a small notice in The Green Room in Archway Road, Highgate, a serious contender for the title of London’s most curious shop.