Michael Fitzalan copy

Ludicrous Londoners poisoning their families

The Londoners and habbits

Whenever I can, I cycle everywhere. We do have a 1.2 petrol Polo and 1.5 VW Tiguan.

My wife loves the high position – a Range Rover without the girth and stigma. I hate no one and nothing, I will greet all strangers and I will eat any food. However, as a cyclist, I dislike diesel fumes particularly as they are four times as polluting and damaging as those from petrol engines.

Okay, I dislike one other thing – idling engines.

Anyway, I cycle to my client that afternoon and I feel good, the evenings are getting lighter and as it is the Christmas holidays I can go along at 4.00 before it gets dark.

As I lock my bike, a ‘D-lock’ at the back fastened around a post with details of parking restrictions – residents only – 11am -12pm, which stops commuters, I notice a huge truck.

Looking further down the road, I spot another five lorries, a film crew, shooting some interiors shots in one of the houses in the side street, brilliant. A bit of ‘Hollywood’ glamour coming to Wandsworth is all good; the dull residential streets deserve some excitement, a change from children going back and forth from school or clubs. Idly wondering what they are shooting, I pass another truck opposite the door of the house.

The engine is idling.

Normally, I go up to the perpetrator of the crime, it is illegal in some cities to run your engine on idle, it is more polluting than driving as everyone knows. Approaching them; I told them that a friend has been fined £80.00 just last week by a warden going around and booking purely for that offence.

It is generally a friendly exchange, followed by an acknowledgment that turning off the engine saves the planet, a little; keeps petrol costs from skyrocketing as it reduces demand; and limits the oil we have to import from Russia so indirectly helps Ukraine. All good-natured chat and most people will switch off the engine.

This time I don’t. I have a lesson and I am focused on that.

Coming out of the house an hour later, it is dark; however the truck is still there, and its engine is still running. I unhitch my bike, put the lights on and wheel the bike over to the middle-aged man behind the wheel. He grew up in an energy crisis and yet; he was urged to SAVE IT, yet he is content to run his engine non-stop.

“Hi there, I’ve just been visiting a family across the road,” I say casually, “are you okay?’

“It’s freezing,” he complains.

A brisk walk around the block would warm him up, I think.

“Here,” I offer him a fiver, “here’s a fiver; there’s a pub five-minutes-walk from here, the County Arms, they serve coffee, that will warm you up.”

“I’m on call, I’ve got to stay with the vehicle,” he explains.

“It’s five minutes away, three with a brisk walk, that would warm you up, too.”

“I have to stay here, I’d lose my job,” he argues.

“My friend’s son is a surgeon; if you’re going to stay at least turn the engine off for five minutes, there’s families all around here.”

“I suppose you’re right, I’ve got kids, too,” he says and cuts the engine.

“Thank you, listen take the money and grab a coffee, it’s really good there.”

“I can’t the film crew need me here.”

“I shall never see a film again if this is how they treat their staff,” I promise.

He smiles.

“Goodnight and thanks.”


“A brisk walk will warm you up a bit, there’s some nice houses around here for you to admire; too, beats staring at the dashboard or Facebook.”

Ludicrous London

I switch on my rechargeable lights knowing full well that as soon as I’m gone he will put the engine back on. I wonder why we live in such a space. Ludicrous London where people waste fuel instead of taking exercise; where people buy diesel SUVs and wonder why their children have asthma.

If your house was on fire would you throw more fuel on the fire? Yet in London, one of the most polluted cities in the world where it has been reported in the newspapers that children have died due to the level of nitrous oxide in the air. Furthermore people go out and buy diesel Range Rovers and Mercedes so that they look good when driving at 20 mph down a side street.

Gridlocked cars

Every day, I pass gridlocked cars, stuck in jams because their cars are too big for the London streets and cannot get through. However, these ‘successful’ people who have a lot of money, enough to buy an £80,000 car, do not have the wit to buy a second car for nipping around to the shops.

They complain about the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone or U.L.E.Z. but they are the ones who forced it to be brought in. As Oscar Wilde might say if he was alive today: they are individuals that ‘know the price of everything and the value of nothing’.


A well respected author

Michael Fitzalan was born in Clapham, South London where his mother had established a doctor’s surgery in a house which she filled with children.

With three sisters, two brothers and a library full of books, a love of literature was imbued in him from an early age.

Michael Fitzalan comes from Irish parents were doctors and they settled on the West Side of Clapham Common and had six children in quick succession.

A story by Michael Fitzalan

Michael Fitzalan’s first novel gained cult status and here are some others: Waterwitch was a hit with those who have ever sailed; two brothers battle storms and Spanish support for the Malvinas in an attempt to meet up with their girlfriends in Ibiza. They have to get from The Algarve to Ibiza, all very straightforward until engine failure and storms threaten to sink all their plans. The Taint Gallery tells the story of a modern Romeo and Juliet; the story is set in Cheslea and Fulham, not Verona, nevertheless, it is a doomed relationship. The book was shunned by big publishers for its highly charged and graphic sexual content and the small publisher who produced the book folded, copies are rare. A reprint is planned for its twentieth anniversary next year; it is still as pertinent and shocking today as it was back in 1996. Switch is an amazing mixture of Franz Kafka realism yet it reads like a Raymond Chandler thriller. Joe Ederer falls for a French girl but he is recovering from being dumped by his English girlfriend. A fish out of water in London, he chases her home only to be rejected. He hooks up with a suffocating drug addict and that is when his nightmares begin. Major Bruton’s Safari is the story of innocents abroad; a family invited to celebrate the coronation of the Kabaka of Buganda become indoctrinated into the ways of Africa. With an acerbic observer on hand, the family experience the warmth and ways of Uganda that help them to understand themselves a little better. IPG – Innocent Proven Guilty is about a teacher, Philip Hayward whose brother sold their shared flat and ran off to America with the proceeds. Philip bumps into his brother’s ex-girlfriend and she tells him his brother is back. Racing to the address she gave him, he arrives to find his brother with a knife in his back. As he leaves, his shoes leave bloody footprints and the police come looking for him. Carom – Finn McHugh and his team take on a swindler and smuggler, Didier, who is depraved in so many ways. They know he is smuggling art and drugs; he must be stopped before others take him out. The Cubans, want him dead, Finn wants to break the smuggling ring. Who will win? Remember the Fifth November – Guy Fawkes was innocent, Catesby was a broken man who brought his children up in the Anglican faith, yet Robert Cecil arranged for them to be portrayed as terrible villains. With a spy service second to none and with moles everywhere how could someone hatch a plot like this and fail to be discovered? The answer, they could not. Read the truth! One – Bullying does not go on anymore in schools. I would not bet on it. Weep as you read the terrible story of a school bully and the misery he dispenses to all the boys. Then, cheer as one of his victims takes revenge. Take a trip to a prep school in a time when kids built tree houses, danced and swung on Tarzan ropes!

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