Mixing Up Imitation Tea and a Welsh Prog Rock Band

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

September 22, 2023


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Well, forgot to save last week’s meagre blog to Facebook, so I just did it now, so you lucky people may get 2 episodes for the price of one (ie nothing).

As planned, I was off to the Salopian Garden, most of the way to central Hounslow on the London Road. It used to be someone’s garden but now it’s still behind an old house but wedged between the Kitchen Shoppe and a modern flock of bats, or a block of flats if you prefer (I have always been a fan of Spoonerism – I like the lord being described as a shoving leopard). Whatever, this is a gorgeous little enclave with nice people, lovely plants and growing foods. The story is here.

I always thought Salop was to do with Shropshire (don’t ask me why it is called Salop rather than Shrops like any self-respecting county) but apparently the Salopian Garden is named after some dodgy imitation tea made from orchids and sassafras root which was apparently named after Sassafras, an equally dodgy Welsh band from the 1970s. But maybe I have that the wrong way round, but any fans out there, don’t tell me off for calling them dodgy, I’m sure they are very talented, boyo.

It was a very nice event including a little bubbly wine stuff and very good company. The lady in the orange dress is Arit Anderson, from Gardener’s World (and Twickenham).

The only date on Friday was the Lampton companies Shareholder board, with the Leader Shantanu taking a big role these days, which reflects that this has got that much more serious an enterprise. Progress in all of the companies. Numbers are good (against very challenging numbers) and it always feels it’s all on track.

Then it’s the weekend and nothing on Saturday I’m going to share. Other than I had a familiar wander around, partly taking a detailed look at ‘our’ marina that isn’t yet. I hadn’t realised they had set down the pontoons which will help punters (when we have them) to get to their boats (if they ever have them). The progress there is pretty slow but it’s always good to see progress anyway. I look forward to when there are 30 odd houseboats there, adding to the rivery feel of Brentford.

In the Salopian Gardens

Monday was a bit annoying in the evening. I had had a couple of dull meetings during the day and the evening gave me the opportunity to go to a training about substance addiction, going to a session about the proposed path along the line of the old railway from the High Road to (nearly) the A4, or to a history society lecture about the old gas works. I chose gas, and discovered I was actually first here when the gasworks was still here but I was commuting from Acton in 1977 and drove along the A4 and the nearest I got to the gasworks was the Magpie and Crown (for obscure reasons we always called it the 3 pigeons). Anyway, I did this gig and it was another new thing for me because it was held in the Chiswick Memorial Club. I’d passed it 1000 times but never been in and it seemed rather forbidding but it was fine inside!

The Chiswick Memorial Club

Fascinating story and I knew very little about it.

A jolly group of gasmen no doubt celebrating Leedon and Chambers being done for breaking the lamps.

When I was just a little nipper (I know you don’t find it credible) Mr Mercury was an important person in my life. My dad had a petrol station selling something called National Benzole and obviously this was the best fuel available on the planet. I remember our garage was painted a mixture of sort of pacific blue and yellow – how tasteful can you get – these being the official paint on National Benzole.

But this is supposed to be about Brentford not Connah’s Quay and the talk was about the gas works here. I have seen pictures before but it reminds you what an enormous buncle it was on the Thames where Waterman’s Park is now, though I bet the council were accused of betraying the history of Brentford and gentrifying it with a park and an arts centre, and a load of council maisonettes.

Tuesday was the Council meeting – I think the first one I have ever been to where there were no papers on the agenda. There were a number of questions and a few motions, the most moving one about our care leavers who we are trying hard to give a better start in life, and judging by the ones we saw on Tuesday they will go a long way. There was also a motion from Conservative Ron Mushiso who it seems is the candidate to be our local GLA Assembly Member. Quite inevitably it was about ULEZ, with the usual misleading and confused statistics that the Conservatives like to bring down to the dog show as it is the only pooch they think has a chance of winning a medal. Good luck with that!

Wednesday seemed a mild and dry day when I decided to cycle to Hounslow but obviously as soon as I left home it started throwing it down. Eventually I found a café to hide in, but it was still at it when I got out. I was heading for ARC Hounslow. It means Addiction Recovery Community and wow, was it worth a visit, rain notwithstanding. It’s part of life you hear a lot about but don’t really get close to – well, I don’t. It was an eye opener and truly inspiring. Having had the processes explained, I was sent to various rooms where we were given a closer look at various topics. To use their own description: “ The service helps people break a cycle of addiction to substances such as heroin, cocaine, and new psychoactive substance as well as long term alcohol addiction”. I then had the privilege to meet several people who had been through their recovery process and are now on the other side. My mind was blown by what they said and in one case I had trouble avoiding tears. It was a moving experience! I couldn’t capture it in a picture, so this is the best I can do.

The people I met, who are often seen as lost causes, were nothing but. They were truly inspiring.

I made my soggy way home for a Teams meeting with the Leader, Salman the lead member for Recreation (and other stuff) and a rowing charity who are keen to work more with the council. Pleased I had started this off and there is a good chance to end up making a difference to a lot of young people around Brentford.

Then it was Thursday, and the morning was spent touring around Chiswick and Brentford with the head of Hounslow Highways and our senior officer. This was largely about weeds, but other matters that Highways are responsible for. There is a visible improvement though there’s still plenty of room for improvement with this difficult task. We will get there and are learning more each season. Doesn’t stop me grumbling.

Then my daily dose of people grumbling me about the roads and my daily letters on the matter. Then to feel better I’m off to Chiswick for the third birthday of the Flower market. That has been a great success, and I also had a chance to talk to a woman from the cheese market. Cheese is not my weakness, but good to hear how pleased she is about how well her market is going.


Councillor Guy Lambert

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