The First Casualty Is Innocence



Walk past Sainsburys, the yellow building (a new build of private flats), and the grey building that looks like an airport terminal but isn’t (remember the airport terminal from the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’?), and you’re in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Head ten minutes in the opposite direction and you’re in the Borough of Bexley. But then I discover that Lesnes Abbey Nature Reserve (ten minutes in the other direction) is actually in Abbeywood.


Thamesfield could be the preserve of Bexley Borough, this is what all the residential rubbish bins have printed on their sides, but if that is the case, why is there a Royal Borough of Greenwich Library down the road?

Trying to figure out why nobody seems to outright own the nine towers of Wolverton Rd (in Thamesfield) is as frustrating as trying to make ends meet on Universal Credit. I am a single person, this is a good thing, with £40.00 I can food shop for the whole month eat and still wind up looking like a high fashion clothes horse (size 18 shrinking to a size 12). The smaller I get the cheaper my clothes become, wonderful!


As for Universal Credit housing costs, who knew that as a single person I am actually entitled to a far higher amount for housing costs than would be the case if I was part of a couple?

But I have to wonder? Nutritious food is a necessary for concentration and creative thinking, particularly when you’re young. So how on earth did we wind up with impoverished, half-starved youngsters living (with their families) in council housing, creative enough to acquire safe houses and machine guns to guard their drug dealing? Even with that degree of creativeness how on earth did they acquire the money needed to gain possession of safe houses and guns? Even with the safe houses and the guns, how on earth did they acquire such significant amounts of drugs?


Did you know that on one estate (recently) police had to patrol the area with firearms after a spate of shootings, and that on another a police operation netted 1/10 living on the estate who were involved in drugs & gang culture?

Did you know that England has it’s own stash of millionaire drug dealers? No? And this despite all the intensive and extensive investment made by three separate Labour Governments to combat the problem of drugs and the cartels.

The more I think about all these things the more confused I get (and hungry).


I have discovered that eating Japanese influenced food means I get more energy for my pound, for example a half a small pack of Korean noodles steeped in tomato sauce from a can of sardines, plus a sardine and a half and some beans is very nutritious and energy giving. In fact a half small pack of noodles prepared in this way can provide me with three cheap meals, wonderful! Each time I shop for food  I feel a surge of jubilation, I am a cost effective shopper, it’s just that I keep on losing all this weight. Ah well, must dash! Today I visit the dentist for the first time in two years!



Even The Black Bird..


This morning I was surprised to see a black bird swoop into and out of a circuit box affixed to an apartment on the Thamesfield Estate, this was the Thames Mere section of the estate which has now been emptied and is in the process of being demolished. It reminded me that God’s creation will pretty much make a home anyplace it views to be warm, safe and secure.

Concrete boxes piled one on top of another, constructed with an economy sized balcony but no front or back garden. Plush looking housing estates with communal gardens which do not permit the playing of basketball or football. No matter the inconveniences built in by a government rubber stamping projects on the basis of ‘any housing is good housing’, people will take the properties they’re offered on the basis of safety and security first and artistic beauty later.

Witness the plethora of security guards driving and patrolling around projects which have yet to be completed and you’ll know this to be the case and it’s a fallacy. Cubitt Square in Kings Cross, has been built right across the road from an estate fronted by apartments with barred wrought iron anti-burglary gates protecting their porches. There has been an issue with burglary orientated crime in this area for some time.


When Thamesfield was first built in the 1970s it was considered to be a safe and secure place and it still is pretty much. Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ was filmed in part on this location because it was considered (at the time) to be aesthetically beautiful, a symbol of things to come.

True, Thamesmere (in Thamesfield) and Corralina Walk have now been emptied and will be rebuilt, because of associations with drug dealing and drug addiction, but then under 40% of resident adults are in full-time employment, 11.7% work part-time and 30% have been classified as being economically inactive. Let us also not forget that Brexit looms on the horizon, things have been hard and if these negotiations go as many have predicted, things are destined to get even harder for those already struggling in places like Thamesmere, Greenwich.

Where Exactly Is Thamesfield?


Lesnes Abbey Park, Abbeywood, Thamesfield, Greenwich

On Sunday I needed to figure out how to travel from Thamesfield in Greenwich to Bexley Heath Jobcentre on foot, so I did a dry run and it nearly killed me. At 6:40am on a Monday morning I steeled myself for a second walk into Bexley Heath (via Erith) and that went much better. I timed both walks, the first took me about four hours each way, the second attempt reduced my journey by two hours. I ‘Googled’ the distance this morning, Google Search maintains that the journey from Abbeywood to Bexley Heath should only take one hour and six minutes, I did try Googling the distance from Thamesfield to Bexley Heath Job Centre, but Google appears not to know where Thamesfield (in Greenwich) is.


Thamesfield Estate, Greenwich, in the 1970s

For some reason unemployed people residing on the council estate of Thamesfield (North Thamesfield, South Thamesfield etc…It has it’s own bus route), frequently find themselves sent to the Bexley Heath Jobcentre when in fact their nearest jobcentre is in Woolwich. All well and good if you have the money but Thamesfield is in a borough which has the fifth highest unemployment rate in London. It’s a place where young couples have consciously made the choice whether to feed the children or feed themselves. A place where no one has to try to get fashionably thin or fit either. On my journey back out to Bexley on Monday morning, I espied a pallid looking young woman with unfashionably rock hard muscular calves, she clearly walked a great deal.

Walk through Abbey Wood to Low Road and you will encounter the one and only Sikh Temple where the local community traditionally provide a communal meal after worship. Walk further still and you will encounter several working mens’ clubs (still functioning), a little further and you will encounter Battle Road and then Pembroke Road passing into Fraser Road which leads you past the near defunct town of Erith, and up towards Bexley Heath. Bexley Heath is a wonder and a puzzle, with it’s beautiful, pristine churches, carefully cultivated front gardens, comfy middle class homes, and a whole brace of bargain basement stores and charity shops selling second hand clothes at severely reduced prices.

It doesn’t bristle with anger in quite the way that Northumberland Heath (just down the concrete road) does. But then I struggle to wonder why, because it’s patently obvious that the poverty infecting and affecting other parts of Greenwich has also made its mark here.


Zac Goldsmith visiting Northumberland Heath during his mayoral campaign

Having finally arrived at the jobcentre, lost my temper with an admin manager and been tossed out into the cold, I re-entered once more, meekly, (if you know me you’ll know how hard that was!). There are over 44 desks on the Universal Credit floor and I find myself seated at desk 42 right alongside another equally irritated claimant (a young man spoiling for a punch-up with a security guard, whilst seated in front of a claims’ advisor).


The William Morris Clock Tower in Bexley Heath

Three days ago (in place of having a meal since I’m short on cash at the moment) I read an article about the murder of Ben Fasina, one of the murder defendants (22 years old) claimed he earned £3,200.00 a month dealing drugs. Today I read another article in the Evening Standard based on Lambeth’s Councils prior research, stating that drug dealers were earning on average £19,000 a year dealing drugs (twice the minimum wage). 


Evening Standard Headline: Who earns the most? A Goldman Sachs Banker or a Drug Dealer?

Universal Credit so I am told is no longer an entitlement, paid for when you are working, but an optional right, predicated on your own aggressively demonstrated enthusiasm to work, no matter if the work is temporary (leading to you claiming benefits three to six months later) or casual and therefore unreliable. To remain deservingly poor you must nowadays forgo your dignity and your pride and be prepared to jump through as many hoops as the government chooses on a whim, to create. This is all well and good for patient, longsuffering and much older folk who have lived through more than one set of tough times, and raised children in them and through them, but in South London? With the young? This approach just isn’t working.