I live in Chislehurst, Kent, BR7 which - over the top of the hill - turns into Mottingham, London, SE9. I would have been quite happy to live in either place - until today!


I have just ordered a new gate and some fencing from a rather good Kent-based manufacturer, for our scout hut. I paid a delivery charge of £21 plus VAT. Had I lived over the hill I would have to have paid £52 plus VAT, an increase of £37.20 inc. VAT for that extra few hundred yards. Mottingham isn't even in the Congestion Charge zone.


It's not every day that I can say that living in Chislehurst is cheaper than living in Mottingham! Does anyone know any more expensive examples of London living? Contact Me.

John Hemming-Clark's Top Five Team Names

1. Bear Girls

2. Soup-a-Stars (Catering Team)

3. Ready Aim Splat (Paintballing)

4. Ceral Killers (Given to some scouts on camp that gained a reputation for scoffing the Coco Pops)

5. Nuns with the Runs

Wandering, well cycling, around London today I chanced upon a number of those, so called Legible London, maps that have been springing up for several years now, but.....


As every scout knows, Ordnance Survey maps show North at the top so that we can get our bearings quickly and easily. Not so with Legible London. Any way up but the correct way! In the end I gave up looking at them - they're dreadful - and very frustrating! Look at my example. Look where North is! The Strand and The Mall are going up and down the map and not at a twenty-five degree angle.


Does the sun rise in the East? Not now it doesn't.

Map London

So this afternoon I walked down to my local garden centre and then had to queue for ages.


Me: I would like to buy some garden gift vouchers please.

Sales assistant: We don't have any in stock.

Me: Isn't that akin to having no plants?

Sales assistant: We've had a run on them.

Me: Okay. When will you get some more in?

Sales assistant: I don't know. [Then adds, helpfully] You could try our other branch.

Me: Where's that?

Sales assistant: Welling.

Me: I live in Chislehurst.

Sales assistant: So?

Me: I walked here. Welling's five miles away.

Sales assistant: It'll only take you a hour and a bit.

Me: I tell you what - you 'phone Welling branch and get them to walk here with my vouchers.

Sales assistant: I don't think that that's possible.

Me: Exactly.


Having wasted ten minutes on queuing (one till open) and then the above I tut-tutted and left, wondering why it was so that I had just wasted (with the walk there and back) nearly an hour of my life. As I walked up the main road I came upon a cyclist who was lying on the pavement having just cycled at full pelt downhill into a van exiting a side road. If it's one thing scout leaders can all do it's first aid so I stopped to offer aid and assistance. Had the garden centre had the vouchers in stock I would probably have been well past the accident spot before it happened...


And the moral of this story is???

"Be the most enthusiastic person you know. Enthusiasm sustains you when times are tough, encourages those around you and is totally infectious." Bear Grylls

What is the scourge of the modern world?


An Amazin' Adventure

(or a salutary tale of how an internet giant grew far too big)


Way back in the Thatcher days

Bookshops were found in every town.

One could browse to one's heart's content

Authors of renown.


Then take one's pick - maybe a Horace Horrise -

From thousands that were on sale.

Pay and straightaway take hold

Of a wondrous tale.


Stock was never bought direct

There would be a wholesale line.

Books could sometimes cost a bit

But the logistics worked just fine.


Then in the 90s with Tim Berners-Lee

The world wide web was born

And book sales slowly moved online.

Consumers were quite torn.


From dust an Amazin' company was formed.

No need for wholesale now.

Amazin' built warehouses of great size

And became a fat cash cow.


'Cause business rates were no concern

Of Amazin' - this new fab firm.

And with a prim delivery there was

No need to leave the home.


Bookshops soon could not compete

With delivery next day and free.

So closed their doors across the land.

The shops remained empty.


Amazin' moved to other lines

That other stores supplied.

And soon they also disappeared.

"No level playing field now," shops cried.


Amazin's tax bill was so low

Through offshore ducks and dives.

The high street slowly disappeared

Which ruined many lives.


The government was quite inept.

And timid in the extreme.

It let Amazin' run fiscal riot.

It did not intervene.


Amazin' bought the empty shops

Now that they were dead.

They applied for "change of use" each time

And each became an Amazin' warehouse shed.


Government income began to fall

So it increased the taxation rate.

It's citizens were much worse off.

Amazin' became the firm that everyone loved to hate.


The state was suffering all the while.

It had a lack of dough.

It looked around for things to sell.

"The NHS - that has to go."


Amazin' had meanwhile accrued

An unencumbered stash.

It looked around for things to buy

And bought the NHS - for cash!


Treatments were no longer free

Now Amazin' was in charge.

For everything one had to pay.

Amazin's cash pile grew more large.

State ownership was out of date

As Amazin' bought up it all.

The fire service, the police, then government itself.

Amazin' Amazin' was having a ball.


The parks, the rivers, the canals all fell

Into Amazin's grip.

The National Trust could not compete

With Amazin's ego trip.


Next on the list was the C of E

And priests had a new boss.

No, not the Lord Almighty

But Amazin'. What a loss!


Soon congregations did not donate

They had to pay to sing along.

Admission they were also charged.

Even though it was quite wrong.


The UK found itself completely owned

By Amazin' for a small fee.

On the seventh day Amazin' rested.

Then off it sailed and bought the sea.


Then Amazin' took its cash abroad

It looked around to buy.

Europe fell without a fight

"Owned by Amazin'," was its sigh.


Off to Australia Amazin' went.

Africa and Asia too.

Amazin' secured the USA.

South America was quick to do.


Then Amazin' bought the frozen poles.

The Antarctic was a steal

The Arctic Circle was not hard

Some fish for polar bears the deal.


Amazin' smiled. It had the world!

So it peered up to the sky.

Soon it had the universe.

Surely now the end was nigh?


Amazin' tried to reach the heavens

But God did not play ball.

"Already I have defeated evil.

So you're too late," he did call.


"Give back your wealth you wicked firm.

You've tried to wreck my plan.

Go back to earth and make amends.

To my creation, including man."


Amazin' bowed its head in shame

And slunk back down to earth.

Gave back its gains and paid fair tax.

The high streets saw rebirth.


They weren't the same again of course

But online came more fair.

The fat cats tried to slim back down to shape

And Amazin' tried to care.


But the people bought from it no more.

Its nine lives turned to rust.

Amazin's reign was soon well over.

And it returned - back to dust.


© John Hemming-Clark 2018