3 May 2015

Imagine swifts & herons

Imagine swifts & herons stalked
empty tunnels underground Parliament, or nightingales sang from the shard
what people would say?
They saw it but noticed not.
If politicians could shriek
and shrivel up in their seats
would war and terror be lost?
If that egret could get in here
anyone can and anyone will.
Fear-heroes or aspiring terrorists,
are just like our neo-pols.
Just something dodgy about a cool party hack.

29 March 2015

SoCamJam Red Bread

Recently, I discovered a compelling urge to bake bread after wanting to make a sour-dough pizza.   The embarked upon 5-day creation of sour-dough starter for pizza has now sublimated other desires.  

Starting with a wet "sour-dough" starter or levain at 100% hydration (50 grams water for every 50 grams of flour, usually only white) my initial three variations included a 65% hydration Greek version which takes 24 days to come to maturity.   Guess I was hook, line and sinkered by then!  

I now prefer an 80% hydration levain with 1 gram of whole wheat flour for every 4 grams of white flour to 4 grams of water, refreshed every 24 hours but always used after 6 - 8 hours of refreshment.   I can make good sour-dough pizza with this levain and have ended up baking and baking bread.

Spreadsheets account for any changes and variables in temperature, time, flour, water, yeast and salt, as I test and refine new breads to bake.

Early on I decided to give away at least 1/2 of what I produce for free.   I now have some happy neighbours and friends getting whole loaves as I want the entire journey to be understood.

Ask for advice about how to get started and I can but direct you to Ken Forkish's "Flour, Salt, Water, Yeast" which sets out easy to follow guides.   The rest is up to you and the mad scientist inside.  Bread making is a bit of art and a lot of science as well.  My maths has improved by each rise.

This red bread is an assisted levain.   It uses red malt, white, whole wheat, and light rye flours to produce 2 loaves, proofed in covered wicker baskets using a 30 minute autolyse, 4 stretch and folds followed by final retarded proof in baskets to produce a wonderful bread I prefer not to grignette at all.  Assisted as in addition to levain it uses 2 grams of quick yeast.  The project I am currently with is for a perfect overnight pure levain country blond.

Below are images of early bakes.  Unfortunately, the final version looked so good it got eaten before any thought of taking a picture!   The Maillard reaction produces a caramel dark moreish crust.  Bake it until the colour is brown-violet for the best of all tastes.  Don't cut this one at all.

19 February 2014

All People's Party gain Councillors on Southwark Council

The All People’s Party (APP) is a political party of community champions set up by Prem Goyal OBE JP and longstanding community leader and former Councillor Adedokun Lasaki.

Together with Councillor Althea Smith I have now registered  the new All People's Party Group on Southwark Council.   It is possible at least three more Councillors will join the party before May.

Like Althea, I know people's concerns are all too frequently dismissed by a governing elite.  I will stand up for all the people and not just a few by putting all our communities first before party.  We will always work to ensure nobody is excluded.

I have felt the stress of exclusion by Labour and feel for the millions who are treated with similar contempt by governing elites.

I have served one term as a City Councillor (City of Westminster) and one as a Borough Councillor (Southwark) and will make sure my knowledge is available to the many fantastic people seeking to represent the All People's Party across London.

2014 and then 2015 will see APP break the metropolitan elite stranglehold on power.  Ordinary people working side by side is all it will take.

19 November 2013

Southwark is now one of the most dangerous places to cycle in the whole of London

I have today written to Peter John, the Leader of Southwark Council, as follows:
"Dear Peter,

I am writing to express the dire sense of emergency felt by cyclists using Southwark roads. 

Southwark is now one of the most dangerous places to cycle in the whole of London. 

There is a systematic failing in Southwark to prioritise and improve cycle safety, as I am sure you have seen from reading Southwark’s Annual report on delivery of the transport plan 2012/13. 

Policy 5.3 - Target commuter cyclists in road safety campaigns.

Unfortunately injuries to cyclists have increased for the fourth year running as shown in figure 49 on page 106.  

This must be a major concern for us all as Councillors.

Pg 96

Maintain the % of principal road length in poor condition at 11.1% by 2013/14

Delivered:   2012/13: 16.7% of principal road network length – Failing (Red)

Pg 104 

RAG status for road safety targets:

Reduce the number of casualties by 33% by 2020 – Failing (Red)

Reduce the number of KSIs by 33% by 2020 compared with a 2004/08 baseline – Failing (Red)

Reduce all cyclist casualties by 44% by 2020 based on a 2004/08 baseline – Failing (Red)

The recent tragic deaths on Southwark’s streets and several serious incidents bring home just how dangerous Southwark is becoming for cyclists. 

Policy 5.6 - We will seek to create conditions where our roads are safe.

Comparing Southwark to other inner London boroughs, Southwark ranks third worst in terms of total and killed and seriously injured casualties and that Southwark’s casualty numbers are higher than the inner and greater London borough averages.

If you “cycle” across Southwark, it really is one of the most dangerous places to cycle in London, and your Administration does not appear to have, in my view, any robust plan to tackle and change this.

The nature of our inner London Principle A roads (or Red Routes and Borough routes) means there are many, many cyclists in close proximity to the most dangerous large vehicles (lorries and buses) and specific planning measures are needed, now as the growth in cycling inside and across our borough continues.   I call upon you and your Cabinet to act and put in place a radical overhaul of current policy, practice and procedure with and commit to investment in a safe cycling infrastructure along Dutch and Danish engineering design lines. 

I hope the new London Cycling Design Standards developed under Mayor Johnson will give a clear means to “measure” and assess all Southwark’s future schemes and road proposals.  If so,  there may be hope Southwark’s seemingly outdated and old-school approaches can be ended and, in my belief, lives saved. 

Principle inner London A roads and their junctions need higher priority and improved designs and maintenance than at present. 

Please match the talk about lorry bans with practical investment in saving lives and building safe space for cycling in Southwark. The healthy reserves you have built up may well provide the means.

Your sincerely,


Stephen Govier

Councillor for South Camberwell

London Borough of Southwark

31 October 2013

SoCamJam Cilantro Crab and Saffron Jelly

For Halloween I thought it could be fun to experiment with some with my SoCamJam recipes. 

Crab apple and Saffron is a great combination – if you want to try an Award winning artisan version then I’d recommend “Gernot’s Gold” (www.gernotsgold.co.nz) – and am told it goes great with venison or reindeer meats.   

But, I tend towards jelly and cheese as a combo of choice.  Rosemary, tomatillos, chilli, sage, quince, Medlar, elderberry and most recently mahonia (the Oregon grape) all have been played into crab apples gathered from leafy Dulwich and Herne Hill (Southwark Labour run Council have terminated the Orchard Green in Camberwell so, I am afraid, nought from Camberwell this year) .

My first taste of saffron and apple jelly was in Strasbourg during a Kerstfeest market and it was just amazing with a selection of local cheese. 

Crab apple jelly is easy as high pectin content merely needs to be combined with a bit of careful preparation and patience (I always double strain my boiled apples through good muslin cloth, hard to find in England these days). 

Getting just the right touch of flavours less so!

Earlier this month, I made some crab apple with lots of lemon thyme and common thyme growing on Dog Kennel Hill. 

At first taste it seemed to edge towards a medicinal. Nnow it has settled and works perfectly with a really, really strong Wookey cheddar. 

So what for all Hallows Eve?   The hint came from the Coles-side of my family and a note I’d found in an old box of letters from Australia.

Uncle Gerald passed away recently in Adelaide so I am thinking of him tonight on this holy evening before All Hallows Day.

Cilantro Haters, it is also your Fault!  I could not find any reference to crab apple and cilantro jam or jelly (just tried Google again) so the notion of a Cilantro Crab with Saffron Jelly found no contraries at all.

To add the touch of love what then better than “Hot Lips” Salvia microphylla.

The EU required label reads:” Purely and only made from:  "Silver Spoon" Preserving Sugar, Thames Tap Water, Crab Apples (Malus x zumi "Golden Hornet" from Greendale, Dog Kennel Hill, Ruskin Park & Denmark Hill + "Rudolph" malus rudolph from Dog Kennel Hill Open Space), Saffron (imported from Afganistan), Cilantro (corriander leaf and corriander root from imported from Vietnam via Longdan, Walworth), Rosemary (Albrighton CC), Sage (4 types from the Dog Kennel Hill Estate including "Hot Lips"  Salvia microphylla), Mint (3 types from the Dog Kennel Hill Estate incluiding "Carl's Peppermint" M. balsamea Willd and Mentha spicata 'English Lamb Mint')  and some love.  

With thanks to Jasia who helped pick a few magic apples and who keeps Dog Kennel Hill such a special site of importance for nature conservation.


15 September 2013

On Monday 9th September two high explosive bombs simultaneously hit on my estate. Dr Wolfe spoke of tragic losses as the Dulwich Society installed a plaque commemorating a killing of 29 non-combatants.

Two days afterwards the King and his Queen turned up unannounced at the scene even as bodies were extracted from the structure which would hold up to fifty people.

A standard SPARS (Surface Public Air Shelter) made from brick but with concrete slab as the roof.

The location of the site, if we take our clue from the South London Observer of 13th September 1940, which reads: “As King and Queen came down the slope to the road, they were loudly cheered by the waiting crowd, who sang ‘Pack up your troubles’.” must be the SPAR shelter next to Wilton House at the top of what was then London County Council’s Dog Kennel Hill Estate and now Southwark Council’s East Dulwich Estate.

My windows look over this berm as I write.

When the Monarch's visit happened, as it would today, word dashed around and as the same paper records: “… before their Majesties left a crowd of several hundred was present.”

Mary Phillips, Secretary of the East Dulwich Estate Tenants and Residents Association [EDERPT] (see photo insert) stands by the plaque screwed to the sidewall of the new Albrighton Community centre listing the names of those killed.

Remarkable technological advances since WW2 may continue to evolve attitudes towards discrimination between combatants and non-combatants but the two bombs that hit that fateful Monday, two days into the Blitz, were not modern PGMs (precision-guided munitions).

Dr Wolfe spoke of his relatives abroad and gently hit a chord for all who agonize at Allied revenge and whole Cities obliterated.

Deftly, as one expects from the Dulwich Society, any issue with the matter of the mass conventional bombing of Germany and the nuclear bombing of Japan made to resonate with more modernist morality.

Today as I look at the shelter berm, on the one hand, I think of a city like Dresden and marvel at it’s re-building after Bomber Harris in full, calculated and indiscriminate dance to Hades dropped more than a few vengeful bombs.

And, on the other, I recall a story about the site of Southdown House (due to be re-built upon despite earlier demolition to create better living space conditions after the war) retold from a childhood on the estate:

“The room I slept in was visited by a young ghost in uniform who used to walk straight out to the bomb shelters. I asked my dad about it and he said it was the ghost of a young man heading to the shelter that got a direct hit. On the green by Southdown House were two shelters - the first was intact and we used to play on top of it. The second, further up the green, was just the remains of the solid roof poking out from the ground - everything and everyone in it were just buried. I, too, used to play on that bomb site on the corner near the shops. We used to have bonfire night there and the fire brigade out every year.”

The berms have recently been opened and no human remains returned.

In a bright time of this age, we all support Public International Rules of Law so formed from such anguish.

Dulwich Society I salute questions posed as you honor that founding of God’s Gift.

Today (September 15.09.2013) a second plaque was unveiled on the estate (pictured Colin Hunte, EDERPT [East Dulwich Estate Regeneration Project Team] & EDETRA who was instrumental in the installation talking with Brian Green of the Dulwich Society about plaque locations) to recall the deaths at Goldwell House.  The plaque reads: “In commemoration of those killed in an air raid in Quorn Road during the Blitz on 15th September 1940.”

Uniquely for London this plaque is placed on an original “Recycled Mortuary Children's Stretcher Railing” [RMCCSR] and the hope is the railing itself will be preserved. 
Much of the metal fencing placed on Dog Kennel Hill and in Quorn Road after WW2 were recycled metal mortuary stretchers. 
Many of the original and historic features of the estate are to be stripped away under the “Master-Plan” of the old and now new Labour Administrations of Southwark and it is a small victory if one such original stretcher survives.
(Left Brian Green, Dulwich Society & Right Councillor Govier).

5 September 2013

Death of a Cyclist in Southwark

Today (04.09.2013) is a most, most despairing day. The death of a cyclist in Southwark must make other Southwark Council Members weep as responsible for this continued deadly conflict & until we all fix it, now not tomorrow, more will die.

I spent from 07.10 am till 09.50 am preparing for a meeting, worried about a possible reduction in key space for cycling and safety of cyclists in my Southwark Ward.

Next, I spent time getting persuaded by Southwark Council Officers into acceptance of much of their draft, and thereafter emailed, if only one key issue of safety and space for cycling was addressed.

Soon afterwards emails arrived with much more detailed technical support highlighting my instinctive concerns to condemn the draft.

This a pre-consultation with elected Councillors so timelines narrow.

It was then knew a weakness, I gave in far too readily.

Such have been the attacks by my fellows, using the power of party group to control the Council machine, I had been made meek and less than I should aspire and humanly hope to be

Next, I learnt of the death of a cyclist in Southwark.

I cried.

I hope my fellows are just as ashamed of the lack of actions to protect cyclists in Southwark.

I gave in so easily and, in place of the robust strength of instinct, failed to stand up for all and a totally robust cycling modal solution.

Later, when I met with a few activists complaining about Southwark Cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign being pro-Labour, I have to say the suggestion that it was now impossible to get a rational and “Dutch” infrastructure adopted in Southwark did seem just vaguely plausible.

We are in dire need of a dedicated infrastructure to remove conflict between cyclists and motorists. This cannot be a piecemeal solution and anything short of a unified solution is to kill cyclists.

My emails with Fiona Colley in 2010-11 at least suggest she wanted such conflict as segregation must not be in the Local Plan.

Peter John proclaims Southwark will one day be the most cycle friendly borough and this is an aspiration I will work for.

Dearest Peter, these are great words but when the need actions?

I will now ask in Council Assembly just what the actions to make Southwark go Dutch are.

It is after all about making sure journeys are not made longer and less convenient as who wants to spend more of their time cycling around junctions with motor vehicles speeding ahead?  

No-one should have to choose between "safe" and "convenient.  

No-one should ever be encouraged to choose a less safe route across any junction that will kill if they're in a hurry.

I cannot comprehend why we still make the mistake of separating "less confident" cyclists and thereby promoting inferior cycling solutions that force people into such devil's bargains.

Build the infrastructure and cycle they will. But we must avoid the costly mistake of building infrastructure which facilitates conflict, danger and inconvenience.

How will all Southwark's Councillors be reassured about Southwark’s future for cycling?