Thursday, 24 May 2012

Thick Creamy Podcast 21-05-2012

Its been a wee while since I did one of my critically acclaimed Thick Creamy Podcasts. This latest one features tracks from two different gigs, the last Which Way Is Up at The Wilmington Arms on Friday 18-05-2012 and one at The Lexington on Monday 21-05-2012.

Sadly I was late getting to both gigs and missed some bands what I really wanted to see, like Fireworks and The Cosines. I am a bad punter. I got distracted watching TV and having dinner and under estimated how long the undrground takes to get to Kings Cross and how quickly I can run to venues from there.

Actually for the Lexington gig I'd been out running before I went out, so I was so knackered I could barely stand up. I'm not quite as fit as I used to be.

Anyhoo, on the podcast there are tracks from Poppy Perezz, Local Girls, Knickers and Still Flyin'.

Feel free to download it, also I discovered that its possible to subscribe to these Thick Creamy Podcasts on iTunes so they download automagically every time I put up a new one.

Simply go into the 'Advanced' menu in iTunes, click 'Subscribe to Podcast' and then paste in this rss feed

and that should give you all the podcasts, forever.

Local Girls

Poppy Perezz

Still Flyin'

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Phone Box Library #79 Great Sampford, Essex

I fully believe that there are over a hundred of these phone box library book exchange things in the UK, its just up to me to find them. In idle moments I search of google, twitter and flickr for any combination of keywords that will lead me to new ones that aren't on my definitive list yet.

And so it was that I found this photo on Nicola Riley's Flickr, of the 79th phone box library, in Great Sampford, Essex.

Great Thaxted is in Uttlesford, about five miles from Saffron Walden, and has a population of around 500 people. The village park has a skate park in it.

According to the Parish Council minutes the phone box library / book exchange was in operation from March 2012, materials for the shelves cost £39.60 I might start keeping a record of these costs for comparion purposes, that would be awesome.

There's three shelves, so that's about 80 books. It looks like there's a good provision of children's books. Its hard to tell from the photo if Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is in attendance.

The nearest public library is in Thaxted, 3.6 miles away and Great Sampford is served by a mobile library for forty minutes every fortnight.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Thick Creamy Podcast 05-05-2012

On the calendar it was a thrilling fun packed weekend, Avengers in 3D on Friday night, the OddBox Weekender on Saturday and Sunday, Veronica Falls in the Camden Crawl on Sunday night, and on Monday an alldayer at The Lexington and escaping to Tender Trap at The Wilmington Arms in the evening.

I made it to Brixton on Saturday for the an afternoon of OddBox bands, catching Fever Dream, Pale Man Made, The Chasms, Drop Out Venus and Pocketbooks.

I 've put together a podcast of the five bands who I did see. The recording sounds a little boomy on my PC speakers, but you get the gist of what its all about.
Feel free to download it, also I discovered that its possible to subscribe to these Thick Creamy Podcasts on iTunes so they download automagically every time I put up a new one.

Simply go into the 'Advanced' menu in iTunes, click 'Subscribe to Podcast' and then paste in this rss feed

and that should give you all the podcast, forever.

Fever Dream
The Chasms
Drop Out Venus

The Mighty Mighty Pocketbooktones

More on Londonland rents

I'm still thinking about that article by Eva Wiseman about how her generation will never be able to afford to buy property and rents are too high. And I'm ploughing through the RightMove property website looking at rents in different London boroughs.

Here's a chart I put together

I spent most of my Bank Holiday Monday scraping the data to make that map, and then this morning found almost the same thing is on the charity Shelter's website here, apart from they're a bit presumptive, rather than labelling average rents they suppose that you need to earn about 2.5 times rent for it to be affordable. Which is where Eva Wiseman's figure of £67,669  to live in Tower Hamlets comes from. Its using a rule of thumb to come up with a very precise figure. How much of your income to spend on rent is a very personal choice, rather than something to be foised on you by a charity.

Anyhoo, I digress...

Of course the City of London has the most expensive average rents, how could it be otherwise, its the centre of the capital, and so, of course the boroughs neighbouring it are going to be less expensive but still amongst the most expensive in the country.

If you want to buy property and you're Eva Wiseman or one of her minimum wage call-centre friends then don't look at the most expensive places in London, look to the cheaper boroughs, the more affordable ones.

Its just a little small-minded to assume that all of the British Isles except the centre of london is uninhabitable.

Here's a table of rents culled from various searches on RightMove:-

Up to £700 £800 £900 £1,000 £1,250 £1,500 £1,750 £2,000 £2,500 £3,000 £3,500 Total properties available Average monthly rent
City of London 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 30 183 70 284 £2,817.34
Kensington and Chelsea 0 0 0 0 0 7 36 89 303 504 509 1448 £2,732.73
Westminster 0 0 0 0 0 5 80 175 526 471 644 1901 £2,649.53
Camden 0 0 0 0 1 44 187 185 342 213 132 1104 £2,261.44
Islington 0 0 0 0 13 57 158 165 236 183 70 882 £2,177.86
Hammersmith and Fulham 0 1 0 0 8 57 186 121 198 90 35 696 £2,045.98
Tower Hamlets 0 0 1 1 47 338 868 646 614 437 244 3196 £2,039.24
Richmond upon Thames 0 0 4 7 46 79 62 52 80 40 26 396 £1,876.70
Hackney 0 0 0 1 24 97 142 123 84 23 23 517 £1,836.94
Wandsworth 0 0 2 3 47 312 341 154 190 67 52 1168 £1,806.55
Southwark 0 0 0 3 106 167 223 144 130 62 26 861 £1,778.86
Hounslow 0 0 13 37 101 113 116 104 227 32 5 748 £1,756.28
Lambeth 0 0 1 10 98 211 208 108 105 64 21 826 £1,733.32
Ealing 0 2 3 15 96 298 160 69 75 14 7 739 £1,563.50
Merton 0 0 8 20 101 132 60 37 25 22 15 420 £1,555.48
Brent 0 2 2 7 82 118 148 30 10 3 0 402 £1,472.26
Haringey 0 0 2 14 150 106 99 25 23 4 2 425 £1,427.06
Barnet 0 0 5 35 245 296 132 37 19 19 7 795 £1,411.01
Newham 0 3 42 106 248 262 160 62 39 10 17 949 £1,395.84
Kingston upon Thames 0 0 0 15 113 111 34 9 7 4 6 299 £1,379.18
Greenwich 0 13 45 52 127 129 89 19 11 9 2 496 £1,318.35
Harrow 0 1 5 32 115 65 8 8 8 0 1 243 £1,248.56
Lewisham 0 2 32 62 159 95 24 18 2 4 0 398 £1,224.56
Enfield 0 2 13 60 301 66 6 0 0 0 0 448 £1,135.41
Bromley 2 4 44 75 132 68 9 1 0 0 0 335 £1,112.50
Waltham Forest 0 1 32 125 268 49 5 2 0 0 0 503 £1,092.00
Redbridge 0 0 23 51 53 9 0 0 0 0 0 136 £1,080.05
Sutton 0 0 23 51 53 9 0 0 0 0 0 136 £1,029.41
Croydon 0 3 92 164 129 21 2 1 2 0 0 414 £1,014.19
Barking and Dagenham 0 14 52 69 55 4 0 0 0 0 0 194 £967.14
Havering 1 16 68 52 44 11 0 0 1 0 0 193 £967.75
Bexley 1 29 58 19 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 115 £859.13

The table shows how many two bedroom properties there are to let at each price point in each London borough. For example, in Bexley there are 58 two bedroom properties to let at between £800 and £900 per month.

To use this table, first work out how much your household can afford to spend on rent each month, between a third and a half of your monthly income, then look at which boroughs have properties at that price point.

Easy peasy.

I get the impression that Eva Wiseman is a stroppy middle class snob frustrated that she can't afford to live in stylish and expensive Kensington and Chelsea, stamping her foot crying "But I don't want to live in Havering!".

What I don't quite understand though is how the number of properties available in each borough decreases as average rents decrease. For example, Tower Hamlets, one of the more expensive areas to live has over 3,000 properties available, and Sutton, one of the cheaper areas has only 136. Its like the opposite of supply and demand.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Phone Box Library #70 Feering, Essex

As reported in This Is Total Essex, the seventieth phone box library has opened. This can be found in the village of Feering in Essex halfway between Braintree and Colchester and has a population of about 2,000.

The phone box had been disconnected for a number of years and the parish council looked into suggests for what to do with it:-

Feering parish council chairman, Paul Petto, said: "It was one of the locals who lives nearby who suggested using it as a book exchange. They saw something similar while they were on holiday."
The parish council was told that they could buy the phone box for £1, or BT would take it away.
Paul said: "It was in a bit of a state, then one of the local residents, Terry Wilson, did it all up and painted it nicely and the village handyman put some shelves in, too."
Terry, 71, is a former BT engineer.

However, it following the worrying new trend this phone box is kept locked at nights, so it isn't the usual 24 hour access.

The locals seem to like it.
Chris Bonney, whose wife Anne suggested the book exchange, said: "I think what's noticeable because we live so close to it is that people stop at the post office and haven't got any books, but then they have a look at what we've done and go back and get some to do an exchange. It's lovely to see."
There are five shelves, so around 120 books, Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is in attendance, although there are reports that more children's books are required.

The village of Feering is serviced by a mobile library which comes for four hours every fortnight, also the nearest public library is in Coggeshall, about two and a half miles away.

The Londonland property market

In the Observer today Eva Wiseman has a column about how many people of her generation will never be able to afford to buy a house or a flat or whatever.

Reading it makes blood pour out of every orifice because of how wrong she is.
Because for most people I know, owning a house will no doubt remain a fantasy. It's something that's become clear over the past few years – that those of us who live in cities, whose jobs are not secure, who are flitting from call centre to job centre and back again throughout our 20s and 30s, whose parents don't have property portfolios, those of us who are single, or still trying to do art or music or something they dreamed of, are unlikely to be able to afford the deposit for a flat. ...

In my borough, Tower Hamlets (one of the poorest areas in the UK), the charity Shelter calculates that the annual earnings a tenant needs to make renting a flat affordable are £67,669. It's a figure I find difficult to read out loud without lisping, let alone conceive of earning myself. It's not achievable – in fact, it makes me feel like I'm going a bit mad. And it highlights the ever-lurking threat of homelessness – that slow slide over a year from being made redundant, to being priced out of your shared flat, to carrying your rucksack between friends' futons, and then, after a clipped conversation in their little blue kitchen, sitting on a bench at dawn with nowhere to go.
I live up in Walthamstow, which is about three miles up the River Lee from Tower Hamlets, I live in a pleasant rented two bedroom flat and the annual earnings for our household is around £50,000, rent is £800 a month. If we bought the place the mortgage would be about £700 a month.

I spend hours ploughing through the RightMove property website in my spare time, putting together graphs of rents and house prices for different areas, because this entertains my otherwise dreary time.

Average rents in Tower Hamlets £1,777 a month compared to about £1,690 a year ago, they're about up 5% about in line with inflation.

However, Walthamstow, three miles away has average rents of about £1,200 a month, up from £1,100 a year before, so more than £500 less than Tower Hamlets.

Eva Wiseman's friends, flitting between call centre jobs, presumably on minimum wage, are unable to buy flats in expensive areas. What's the problem? Why can't they live in Walthamstow, its a lot more affordable, its got a Waterstones and a Sainsburys, and an Asda.

If they really want to own a house, why not try in an area they can afford, rather than an area they can't afford.

Further more, I've lived on minimum wage recently, its difficult, there's only one minimum wage, its the same in London as it is in the rest of the UK. London's hellish expensive, its the most expensive place to live in the UK, of course.

So, if Eva's friends are flitting between call centre jobs, why not do it where the minimum wage goes a lot further. Average rents in Motherwell, are £513 a month.

Minimum wage is about £1,200 a month. You can't afford to live in Tower Hamlets on your own, in Walthamstow you could live there, but would starve. In Motherwell, you could afford two flats and still have money for the pub.

Eva Wiseman's problem and that of her friends, is that they think the house prices in the middle of London are normal, when actually they are abnormal compared to the rest of the country. She ought to cast her eyes further afield.

If she's looking for affordable housing, why is she looking at the most expensive places
Elsewhere in "prime" London – Chelsea, Mayfair, Knightsbridge – estate agents say they are seeing a buying "frenzy". One was recently quoted as having clients who are purchasing their sixth properties, or one for them and another for the kids. He recalled a buyer asking if he had any homes for sale for £30m. "I had one at £50m, so I said: 'Is there room for movement?', and they said no – the other children had £30m spent on their properties, so it wouldn't be fair."
There's plenty of affordable housing if you don't focus on the the >£30m end of the market.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Thick Creamy Podcast 03-05-2012

I went to an awesome gig at The Lexington the other night, eagerly pursuing a band called Manflu who I'd seen at one of the Oddbox show last month, this is how fans are made.

There were a couple of other bands playing and as it was the launch night of Clash magazine, there were lots of copies lying around to read. What really caught my eye was an interview with Jimi Cauty, he used to be in the KLF, my favourite band of the early nineties before I discovered baggy. He's an artist now, working in Clerkenwell doing slightly subversive interesting stuff.

So there were three bands, first up were Sserpress, long haired heavy chaps bellowing out okay rock songs.

I must have been stood in a sweet spot cos they were so loud that I had to turn the dial on my digital recorded all the way to eleven.
The second band were a bit of awesome, there was an arty crowd int he audience, at least one of Erin K and Tash was kicking about, I thought it was cos Clash is an arty magazine, there were also a lot of people with the cool undercut hairstyle I had when I was sixteen. It turns out that the Vuvuvultures are the gods of arty fashion bands.

They've got this singer, Harmony Boucher who's like a fashion model / actress and also has a hell of a voice on her, looks a bit boyish too. Their biog describes them as '..vaguely reminiscent of riot grrl with added internet, or dirty bikers eating microchips and washing it down with video games and icecream'

Then finally Manflu were headlining. They were as good as last time I saw them, the performed well with a large stage. However by this time of theevening I was a bit knackered and wanted to go home, so I did.

Oh, almost forgot, via Matt Henderson on twitter there was a monsterous retweet wave going round the world
London has just won the HIPSTER OLYMPICS. Seriously amazing.
That was outside The Lexington, I was there! When I tried to tweet about it, autocorrect changed it to the Hamster Olympics. Damn you autocorrect.

Anyhoo, moving swiftly on, I've done a podcast of the gig:-
Feel free to download it, also I discovered that its possible to subscribe to these Thick Creamy Podcasts on iTunes so they download automagically every time I put up a new one.

Simply go into the 'Advanced' menu in iTunes, click 'Subscribe to Podcast' and then paste in this rss feed
and that should give you all the podcasts.