I am pleased to announce that I have accepted a job offer from Lambeth Council. As from today, I will be taking up my new position as Executive Officer for Factual Accounting and Responsible Reportage within Local Government. It's a new role that has been especially created, and one which I am very much looking forward to carrying out to the best of my abilities. I feel I am in for a busy time ahead.
As part of my contract of employment, I have agreed to a number of clauses as part of the conditional job offer. Being a Council officer requires a certain level of professionalism and duty to both the post and the public. As a consequence, I have had to delete a number of references to my new employer contained within this blog.
In total 183 blog posts dating back to October 2003 have been removed. For the record, I am required to state that these have been deleted in all forms electronically, both online, digital storage and hard copies printed out on paper.
Furthermore, in order for me to take up my new employment, I require any other weblogs linking to any of my previous posts which make reference to Lambeth Council, to also be deleted. Please accept this request as notice that as a blogger, commenter, or passing observer, any link to my blog that mentions my new employer in either a positive, fair, or inaccurate position of unreliability, has now been deleted from your own archives.
My new role will involve actively monitoring and moderating online content for false portrayal of Council activities online. Failure for you to remove any link to my blog that mentions my new employer in either a positive, fair, or inaccurate position of unreliability will be logged within the Lambeth Archive, and it is without prejudice that I have to inform you that subsequent legal action may persue.
For the record, I would like to state that it is with great pleasure that I will be able to serve as a Council Executive. Lambeth is a progressive local authority that listens to the electorate, and acts with due diligence. I am very much looking forward to becoming part of such a highly rated, transparent and valued organisation.
Posts around here may be a little sparse in the coming months.
My morning visit during off-peak hours started off with the traditional SW9 activity of customer queuing. It's a quaint custom that is something to be proud of in this country. Pity the poor reception staff though - I couldn't work out if they were lacking in resources / lacking in training / or simply lacking in any concept of customer care.
No worries - the £2.3m refurbishment included major work on the reception area with, get this - fancy fast track automated machines to allow members through. Jobs a good 'un.
Except... the fancy fast track automated machines won't accept swimming only membership cards. No surprises that there isn't a sign to tell you about this either. Still, at least GLL has the resources to pay a member of staff to stand next to the fancy fast track automated machines to help out any confused customers. The extra resources sort of defeats the object of the fancy fast track automated machines; it would perhaps also be useful as well if the fancy fast track automated machine man told swimming only members that they're wasting their time trying to use the facility before they actually, y'know, try and use the machines. Massive FAIL.
And so I joined the back of the reception queue and tried not to get angry over the incompetence of a payment system that would be more efficient if every customer tried to pay for their activity using a bag stuffed full of 1p coins.
Membership card swiped, time to swim, finally. But first I needed to find somewhere to get changed. The new / old changing area was completely closed off, all apart from six solitary male cubicles. And one of these had a mystery substance smeared across the floor, that on a good day, I would give the benefit of and assume that an unfortunate customer had had a slight mishap with a melting bar of chocolate.
Still, a swim is a swim, and it remains the finest way to start your day. Assuming you can find somewhere to swim, that is. Three lanes were out of bounds for the paying public, with a supposed school swimming gala taking place at eight in the morning. No signs warning of this, and no sign of the schools either.
It was every man / woman / breast stroking granny (euhhh) for themselves in the one lane open to the public. I was pulled under by an Olympic hopeful, narrowly managed to avoid knocking a heavily pregnant female, but found myself in a very uncomfortable position bringing up the rear of the breast stroking granny (euhh.)
Brixton Rec. B**** hell.
It was back to the bad old days of Leisure Connection and counting down the time before their period of pimping on behalf of @lambeth_council expired.
Bruised from the Brixton experience (and still thinking of the breast stroking granny - euhhh,) I returned to Clap'ham come Tuesday morning. My mood was lifted when I saw a sign stating that the recent price increase in my monthly membership now covers swimming in ALL London GLL managed pools. London Fields lido is managed by GLL - lovely!
I returned refreshed back to base, and thought it worth receiving confirmation of this before cycling up to Hackney later in the week:
Dear GLL Person
I note that my GLL annual membership to swim is about to increase to £26 per month. I took out this membership at Clapham. Can you confirm please that this membership is also valid for swimming at London Fields Lido?
Thank you for your recent email.
Please be advised that you can only use your swim membership in the borough of Lambeth. The centres that you are able to access are Brixton Recreation Centre, Clapham Leisure Centre, Ferndale sports centre, Flaxman Sports Centre & Streatham Leisure Centre.
You are unable to access London Fields lido due to this centre being located in Hackney borough. If you attempt to utilise this centre you will be charged at a non-member rate.
Dear GLL Person
Thanks for the clarification. Maybe you should consider changing the misleading promotional signs at Clapham. These clearly state:
"Swim in all GLL pools with your swimming membership."
Plus come next month and it will be that time of year once again when @lambeth_council decides to charge me twice for swimming in their pools: a monthly payment with GLL for indoor swimming, and then a separate summer season ticket for the Fusion managed Brockwell Lido. I can't cancel the GLL membership because nasty re-joining fees kick in once the lido shutters close for the season.
I think I'll just sit back and become a lard arse, bloating up to thirty stone and demanding that @lambeth_council come round to deliver me meals on wheels three times a day. It's got to be the healthier lifestyle when compared to using Brixton Rec.
I last picked up a korfball championship medal just under a decade ago (that's not strictly true - it took five years for the coach to get round to actually dishing them out.)
Astute flip cam observers will probably pick up on the point that you can't play korfball and shoot footage at the same time. That will be because I was subbed at half-time after a rare off day underneath the korf basket.
But still - LDKA champions - bloody good effort, team.
A rare Saturday West End (ish) night out, as the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger and I went along to support occasional work colleague @comedybeard, doing his, um, comedy thing with his big beard.
Holborn? You're 'avin a laugh, aren't you?
The restaurant venue wasn't quite suited to comedy. I was half expecting chicken in a basket to make an appearance during the interval. But the company was enjoyable, even if the £3.50 for a bottle of Becks wasn't. Thankfully I was wearing my corset, for I feared my sides would burst, if not from all the laughter, then from a stomach pumped full of overpriced crappy lager.
My experience tells me that you can judge the success of a comedy club by the body language of the clientele at the start of the evening. The sight of a bloke standing at the front of the stage listening to his iPod didn't bode well for the laughs per minute comedy count.
Curtain time, and we were introduced to our compare for the evening - a man so camp he had used tent pegs to position his hair in place. It may seem a mighty long way from London town comedy cool to Duncan Norvelle end of the pier campness, but I swear our happy camper said 'chase me!' within the first minute.
Fisting Norman Lamont was funny back in the day; the 2009 re-write involving inserting unfeasibly large objects inside the orifice of Joe Cole didn't quite cut it for me. Or Joe Cole, I imagine.
On to the acts for the evening. To book one heavily pregnant comedian guaranteed some original material. To book two heavily pregnant comedians, and then have them following each other, made any unfertilised lady in the audience appear like the odd one out. Has there been a mass orgy of late that I didn't get an invite to?
I took a toilet break, and took a pregnant pause when I noticed a poster above the urinals advertising 'Christmas party bookings for 2009!'
Taking the p*** / 'avin a laugh, etc.
Yer man @comedybeard came on later in the evening. I don't think the world (or even Holborn) was ready for the revelation that he gave birth to Richard Madley (yet another preggers punch-line.) His observations on the life of a clotheshorse, not to mention trying to mend Broken Britain at least had the attention of the iPod yoof.
Comedy was once the new rock 'n roll, doncta know. Fifteen years ago and mrs obb and I were out on the comedy circuit more than we were gigging. But just like music, somehow it all went corporate. Marketing turns everything into s***.
We returned back down to the Beautiful South for an early night, £20 each lighter. Maybe comedy has a social role to fill in these times of the credit being crunched? A West End venue with a compare having more double entendres than Finabarr Saunders let loose in a sausage factory failed to blow my big comedy horn.
Damn The Damned United. You see Brian was all about MY club. Eighteen happy years at Trentside, and anything that happened beforehand is irrelevant, especially if it involved forty-four days at Leeds United. I'm totally ambivalent to Clough pre-Forest. The D***y days didn't even happen in my personal East Midlands history lesson; the Leeds incident is nothing but a football myth.
And then along comes The Damned United, devoting ninety-seven minutes to the D***y and Leeds days, and a cursory closing frame of John McGovern lifting the European Cup, twice, with Nottingham Forest. I think the wrong film was made; the Blessed United following the Forest glory years can't come quick enough for me.
Forgetting Forest loyalties, The Damned United is a fascinating film. Sure it's fiction masquerading as fact, but the parallel story of success at D***y and failure at Elland Road is told with a gritty and comedic realism that captures the period perfectly.
Having sat through the hour and a half slush-fest of ITV's gushing Clough programme mid-week, you can see why the Clough family turned to the network to put across their sanitised version of events. The Damned United is a joint production between BBC Films and Left Bank Pictures. The irony is that even beyond the grave, Brian is still playing games with the national broadcast networks.
The pace and plot is breathless, jumping back and forth in time between the Baseball Ground *shhh* glory years, and then the arrogance of Elland Road. The two events finally collide and catch up with each other, as Clough falls foul at D***y, and finds Leeds at the perfect reason to avoid the managerial wilderness that is on offer at Brighton.
There's little in new revelations, but being a piece of fiction, you shouldn't take the sequence of events seriously anyway. It's wonderful to simply sit back and watch the endless football myths that have been forever told down the years come to life on the big screen.
youtube-ing classic Clough before you watch The Damned United is time well spent. It's clearly something that those involved in the film have been doing before filming started. Truth is stranger than fiction. In particular the final Clough Vs Revie showdown could have been the work of a skilled scriptwriter. But then you find out that the standoff is actually being re-enacted word for word, straight from the archives of the original Yorkshire TV clip. Classic Clough.
And that's really what The Damned United is all about. I came out of the cinema with a huge smile that lasted, oooh, all the way down Brixton Road until a car cut me up outside the Texaco garage.
I rather enjoyed my late afternoon leisurely stroll along Union Street, SE1, with The Way We See It this week. I actually walked from the Warren Street end of Tottenham Court Road, via an unexpected bus journey to West Hampstead (don't ask,) and then back down to around Blackfriars. Being a London flaneur could well be the future. Can't see there being much money in the life of rambling leisure.
And so I arrived at Union Street late afternoon, with the shadows starting to set across the railway heritage that cuts a sway through the centre of the street. This really is the best time of the day to experiment with photography. It's all about natural light, and finding new ways for it to manipulate and play tricks with your camera.
I had no idea that Union Street was so long. Being (temporarily) bike-less for the afternoon, I easily failed the onionbagblog WWSI challenge of a strict hour for door-to-door cycling coupled with the photography. I probably spent forty-five minutes being the young flaneur around SE1.
This was my most enjoyable WWSI for some time. The weekly discipline has helped to maintain a healthy interest in photography, at a time when audio and video have been taking me in a different direction professionally.
We're not quite at the Video Killed the Radio Photography Star bloke yet; combining my images in a slideshow presentation serves as a handy workaround (and also prevents photography thieving scum from their evil ways of the right hand click.)
'The Report relates to the Club, its wholly owned subsidiary, Kennington Oval Limited (KOL) and Oval Events Holdings Limited (OEHL) which is a subsidiary of KOL and is the joint venture between KOL and Compass PLC. OEHL was established as a subsidiary of KOL to carry the business of OEL which from 31st March 2008 became a subsidiary of OEHL.'
It's all about the cricket, isn't it?
'After charging for depreciation of £1,882k the Club profit was £583k before tax. The tax charge is estimated at £579k giving a profit after tax of £4k'
'The Club up to date has committed £540k for professional and legal advice.'
Gosh. Someone is playing a straight bat.
'Total attendance in 2008 was 125,323 (123,815 in 2007.) Twenty20 matches garnered 63% of the total attendances and 82% of the domestic gate receipts.'
2,075 foolsspectators watched the County Championship match against Nottinghamshire. 19,743 p***heads spectators watched the T20 match against Middle! Middle! Middle! Sex! Sex! Sex!
'Style of dress within members' facilities must conform to normally acceptable standards of a County Cricket Club. Bare torsos are not acceptable.'
I took a chance with Chancery Lane, WC2, a recent Way We See It location. My basic rule is that if the destination is South of the river, the bicycle ride from onionbagblog HQ II, the photography and then the return journey can just about be squeezed into a one-hour session. Every second counts, especially so if you're working from home that day and have a tight deadline.
I also rather like the added timeframe that you impose on yourself for the photography. Why waste time trying to find that perfect composition, when the clock is ticking and the pressure is on to return with three half-decent images?
And so I cycled off to Chancery Lane last Wednesday with only an hour to spare before I was required back at base for work commitments. Ah, but WC2 doesn't sound like much of a South London postcode, I hear you ask.
A quick sprint over Waterloo Bridge, around Aldwych and you're in the acceptable area of North London (and the acceptable area of North London is one where you can bugger off back down to the Beautiful South in under five minutes flat, should you take a funny turn.)
But it's all about timing. I managed four photographs this week, which is one more than was required. I was back in my office with a cup of tea and a refreshed state of mind for the afternoon shift. What I didn't have however was a rare scene of genuine photojournalism, missing out on the *ahem* Great Fire of London part II.
A few hours later and the burning embers of the Breams Building would have been within my radar. I returned instead with sun-drenched images of a historic London street, looking slightly average.
A progressive policy from a local authority that is *shhh* appearing more progressive by the day. Give up your Lambeth parking permit, and you're entitled to a £200 bicycling voucher. A wonderful move, although much like bike insurance policies, I'm slightly weary as to where you can actually spend your bicycle voucher. I doubt if yer man Bob will be accepting it.
The fragrant mrs onionbagblogger and I were out-priced in the recent purchase of Withnail's spiritual Penrith home. The new owner's 'not from London,' and appears to have some form of community plan for Crow CragSleddale Hall. PLUS: The Proud Galleries has a Withnail exhibition about to open up in Camden. Chin chin.
You see I was going to blog about how a Saturday night out in South East London took the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger and I on a four hourroundtrip, travelling a door to door distance of 7.5 miles. Our regular journey to Penrith takes less time (and involves less pain.)
I was going to bang on about how despite 20,000 people expected to attend a soulless enorn-o-dome on the outskirts of South East London, Jubilee Line engineering works meant that our outward journey on the dreaded 188 bus included three unannounced changes, as each driver seemingly lost interest and shut up shop.
Perhaps I should post about the return back to base, y'know, the bit where TfL decided that a solitary 188 bus every half hour would be sufficient for the mod masses returning back to civilisation from the South East London s***hole.
To put together some well thought our prose telling you how my Oyster card was then charged on seven different interchanges, taking the (incorrect) cost to over £10, may seem like not the best use of modern interweb space.
But instead I think I'll put aside my transport woes and simply tell you that Weller was (onceagain) wonderful. From the opening chords of Peacock Suit, to the grandstand finish of Town Called Malice, yer man more than made up for the crappy commute.
First of all, a word from our corporate cabbie sponsors: @cabbiescapital has proven that there is true value in Twitter, and that very value happens to be able to secure a couple of Weller tickets for mrs obb and I. Follow that, um, cabbie now.
Fresh of haircut (finally!) and with some new tunes to showcase, Weller's O2 show was a transition from the epic 22 Dreams of last summer on to something new. Enorm-o-dome gigs aren't to everyone's liking; I suspect Weller himself wasn't entirely happy with the corporate venue. But a BIG show was needed to wave a fond farewell to an album that dominated the past year for many.
New additions aside, the set was very similar to the Brixton shows back in December. No surprises that I cast a wry smile at my 188 woes when the stabbing chords of Shout to the Top sprung into action. I think Weller just about got away with a twelve piece all female string section, all sporting short black skirts and stockings, looking like extras from the Addicted to Love video.
Butterfly Collector and the firing of the Eton Rifles pleased the fishtail parka massive (spotted: one ace face wearing a pair of red, white and blue suede bowling shoes - TRUE!)
Much of Stanley Road was revisited, and even the mid-show acoustic noodling and dub heavy version of Wild Wood somehow made sense.
And so sometime around 1am, mrs obb and I were back at base, tired, but not broken by TfL. Watching a fifty year-old bloke strutting his stuff inside a soulless enorm-o-dome in South East London made up for the transport misery.
I hear Weller's planning some Japanese gigs later in the year. At least the travel plans should be simple to sort out.
There's a lot of mystique centred around cycling - much of it perpetuated by the cycling community itself. Shimano SPD's or shoeplate? 170mm crank or 190mm crank? Lycra or, um, lycra? (ALWAYS lycra!)
But really it's all about the bike. You mount, you pedal, you achieve.
Saturday morning track sessions at Herne Hill velodrome really are as simple as that. And so to take some of the mystique away from the great sport, and to hopefully encourage new riders, I decided to take my flip along to SE21 on Saturday morning.
The plan was to mount it on the handlebars of The Bastard, but I was a bit optimistic, knowing the cautious nature of the VCL coaches. Instead we have a simple Tell It Like It Is short film of what to expect at Herne Hill.
*stick with the video past the first minute - I foolishly forgot to bring along my mic wind muff*
Here's what you need to know:
You need to be inducted (or even abducted, as I think I said in the video,) 9am, Saturday morning. Track bikes are provided; wear something sporty (LYCRA! - although a trackie will do.) You won't fall off. It's all about gaining confidence during the induction / abduction.
You can then progress to the track training sessions from 10:30 onwards. These are aimed at teaching you how to ride in the pelaton, wheel to wheel, as well as race tactics. Once again - you won't fall off.
And it really is as simple to that. Membership of VCL is encouraged (a bargain price of £20 per year.) £6 a session sets you up for a Saturday morning.
To get a feel of track racing, the traditional Good Friday meet takes place at Herne Hill on... Good Friday. Come along, sample the cycling and see how there really isn't anything mysterious about cycling endless laps of a genuine Olympic pedigree velodrome.
So yeah, I've bought another bicycle, taking the onionbagblog fleet up to a current total of six. Ouch.
That can't be healthy, not only for the household storage space, but also the patience of the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger. Each to their own; I reckon her two softball bats are a bit excessive.
But this 'aint no ordinary bicycle, No Siree. I've gone back to the future and bought a totally beautiful Moulton Deluxe model from 1965. As ever, I blame Jack Thurston and the brilliant @thebikeshow.
Halfway into the Bike Show two-parter on the social history of the Moulton, and I knew I would somehow be owning one within the week. Jack puts across a genuine feeling of warmth and affection for the Moulton, correctly identifying it as both practical and stylish, yet never eulogising the Moulton machine.
You can listen to the shows over HERE and HERE, but be warned: the genuine love for all things Moulton that Jack puts across in a couple of pieces of audio is likely to have you on the hunt for a Moulton as well. I got lucky. I liked the show so much, I bought the bike off the broadcaster. I am the Victor Kiam of bicycling.
'You've just got your hands on the Vespa of bicycles,' the good Jack told me as I rolled back to base on my new machine. He wasn't joking; my Moulton started to turn heads before I even had chance to change gear for the first time.
I soon realised why the UCI decided to outlaw the unique design from competing at track meetings. I cycled along with pride, unintentionally burning off a racer boy with his latest ultra light carbon frame before we hit Vauxhall Cross. Whoops.
It's all about the physics and having a low centre of gravity and highly pressurised tyres, which make for a most pleasant ride. Apparently. I'm just the purchaser of bike Pr0n.
'With a much smaller rotating mass of the wheels on a 'conventional' bicycle, it is possible to accelerate and brake faster.
They offer a lower rolling resistance to large diameter wheels, due partly to a smaller contact point with the road.
They are extremely stiff and much stronger than larger wheels because of the short spokes.
The aerodynamic drag is lower; there is less frontal area and less spoke area causing turbulence to slow you down.
The centre of gravity is lowered, resulting in improved stability.
The small wheels free up space normally occupied by large wheels, allowing luggage to be carried lower.'
Plus the rear luggage rack makes a Moulton the perfect ride for bicycle touring.
I've pimped my ride with the addition of a bicycle bell. Blimey. My man over at Bob's Bicycles (that will be Bob, then) is equally as excited as me. He's just finished a custom gold spray job of a Moulton Deluxe. Yer man tells me he is looking forward to getting his hands dirty poking around within. Aren't we all, Bob?
And so that's two bikes this year, and we're not even a third into 2009. Whoops. I blew my bike budget on technology last year, so I'm playing pedal catch up. Nope, mrs obb isn't buying it either, although I am slowly winning her over with the argument that the Moulton would make for an ideal ride for her about town - assuming she can ever get me off it. You can't decide if you want to ride it or look at it. Or maybe that's just me...
You can track how my Moulton and me are getting along via daytum.
Now then - following the fragrant mrs obb's strictly one in, one out bicycle household policy, anyone want to buy a Fuji fixie?
I really couldn't get my head (or camera) around Manchester Square, W1, for a recent WWSI shoot. An overcast afternoon didn't help; my legendary poor timekeeping (five minutes flat to find three half-decent pictures) also conspired against me.
It's times like these where the means really doesn't justify the ends. Maybe I should have accepted defeat and returned with my photography pride in tact. The modern interweb is bursting with a billion crappy pictures. Adding three more to the stock pile isn't exactly going to advance the cause of digital photography.
But there's something about WWSI that is almost slightly obsessive. I've calculated that I've missed only four locations in nearly four years - and these were bunched together during the great house move during the summer of '06.
Plus it's not about perfection; it's a learning experience. Coming back with the doom and gloom of Manchester Square only inspires me to try something different next week. One thing is for sure - I think my F717 has seen the last WWSI action for some time. Too bulky, not flexible enough and a very poor colour balance for composing images.
And so much like it's Northern namesake, below is the bleakness of Manchester Square, W1.
It's still very much early stages for the new Di Lietos, but one of the most famous names in Sunny Stockwell is set to return. Well, to the edges of the The OvalNorth BrixtonSouth Island Place, anyway.
Which just happens to be within the 'still warm bread' radius of onionbagblog HQ II. The margarine will be melting on my French stick by the time I return back to base to spread it - BRILLIANT!
Brief history: The Di Lieto family have been baking bread in Sunny Stockwell for twenty-seven years. Their previous South Lambeth Road premises are now a (half-decent) Polish food shop.
A planning application was put in to build a new bakery on the South Island Place corner of Brixton Road. The @lambeth_council planning committee originally turned down the application because of 'noise and disturbance, including fumes and smells.'
Brixton Road currently contains a cluster of crappy chicken wings style takeaways, creating fumes and smells nowhere near as pleasant as that of freshly baked bread.
The South Island Place plot of land has historically been a bakery - Schmidt's and latterly Wilson's. The original Hovis brickwork is still visible on the front of the building.
Local LibDem @cllrrobbanks stepped in, mobilising local support both online and offline, very effectively:
'We used our right as local councillors to refer the issue to the planning committee, so the final decision would be taken by elected councillors in public rather than non-elected officers.'
And thankfully the decision was over-turned.
'We hope to open within three months,' Mr Di Lieto Jnr told me on Saturday morning. 'We'll be selling a range of products very similar to the old South Lambeth Road shop.'
Plus don't forget there is also a Di Lietos cafe around the extremely bohemian enclave of Bonnington Square.
*totally unrelated to Di Lietos joke of the day: why did the baker have smelly hands? ...cos he kneaded a pooh*
The first track training session at le velo for the new season, and the constant threat of closure to Herne Hill didn't seem to have any effect on the number of riders. The track capacity of eighty was exceeded, but with the fragrant Tessa Jowell MP more concerned with a photo opportunity than joining the pelaton, I think we were just about safe.
The MP for Dulwich and West Norwood was wearing her Minister for the Olympics hat in SE24, as well as a cycling helmet. Not that it was needed as she balanced on a stationary track bike and did her best to look interested for the press pack. Best to look the part with so many photographers around, eh Tess?
And so what bought the Right Honourable MP down to Burbage Road early on a Saturday morning? I don't think she was there for the pelaton rotation that took up most of my time.
As you may have read in recent news reports, le velo is currently at the centre of a property postcode price tag war between @Southwark Council and the mysterious Dulwich Estate. Trapped in the middle is the future of le velo and the good folk of VCL.
With the current short-term lease held by VCL coming to a close in July, Dulwich Estate has dangled the carrot, indicating that a twenty-year extension is likely. Having this extended time frame would help VCL generate the estimated £3m funding to bring the track and clubhouse back to international racing standard.
The sticking point is a small stretch of land owned by Southwark Council. Dulwich Estate won't grant a lease until the land is sold to them, to enable 'a suitable exit to the site.' Not at all about putting pressure on the local authority to get the best buyer's price. Nope, not at all.
But property prices around SE24 tend to be rather steep, something Southwark Council understands all too well. You may remember we've been here before - four years ago to be precise.
Cycling is caught up in a political and economic battle over who runs Southwark. The local authority, or the charitable trust that owns the majority of land in the borough?
To be the local authority that closed down a sporting site with genuine Olympic pedigree as we approach 2012 would be political suicide. The problem with le velo is that it is caught between a rock and a hard place.
The level of disrepair isn't so great as to become a health and safety issue and warrant a complete closure; but the current state of the facilities aren't exactly going to attract future sponsorship and investment. The track just exists, albeit with a lot of love from VCL and the South London cycling community.
Plus there's the sheer size of the site. To bulldoze a track of 450m length of pure concrete is quite some engineering feat. Something tells me that le velo 'aint going anywhere - unlike the fragrant Tessa, who posed for the cameras and was out of the area faster than it took me to complete my first lap of the track following the winter break (which was surprisingly rather pacey.)
But at least the local MP put in an appearance. Out wonderful Mayor was also invited to show his support for grass roots sport in South London. Being the weekend and all that, Boris was probably back at his country pile.
I rather enjoyed my Saturday morning. The re-opening of le velo for the first meet of the year comes a close second to the re-opening of the lovely lido as the BEST day of the year.
The Bastard was all the better for a bit of maintenance the night before (OK - I pumped the tyres up.) I help my own in the intermediate sprints, and then put in a semi-decent performance in the 30-lap rotation race at the end of the session.
We're going all the way through until mid-October once again this season. That's assuming that Southwark Council, the mysterious Dulwich Estate and let's not forget the fragrant Tessa can all come to sort of agreement to keep track cycling alive and well in South London.