#Happy Birthday, Olive! (and Fred)


Many happy returns, Olive….

Last Monday (19th February), Millman Street Community Centre members helped our very own Olive celebrate her birthday.

There was a card, signed by members and staff, and in accordance with Millman Street custom, a lovely chocolate cake was rustled up, and enjoyed by all.  Equally traditionally, no one saved this reporter any, leading the (would-be) greedy guzzler to grumble that Olive had deliberately had her birthday when he wasn’t here.  What a fool he is.


Cake a-plenty…

Any road up, members formed the traditional Millman Street birthday choir to sing Many Happy Returns to Olive.  Only kidding; they sang Happy Birthday before said cake was cut and consumed.  Sadly, Olive’s twin, Fred, is still ill and was unable to celebrate his birthday with Olive and our other members, but we hope he’ll be back with us very soon.

The twins share their birthday with mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus (born 1473), actor Cedric Hardwicke (1893), Cornelis Kieboom, Dutch resistance fighter and chairman of Feyenoord FC (1901), comedian Dick Emery (1915), actor Lee Marvin (1924), singer Smokey Robinson (1940), Socrates (no, not that one; the Brazilian footballer, 1954), singer Dave Wakeling of The Beat (1954), and actor Ray ‘The Daddy’ Winstone (1957).

Other events on Olive’s birthday include: in 1878, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for his gramophone (allowing recorded music at home and, ultimately, those annoying people who play their tunes far too loud on public transport- cheers, Thomas), and in 1964 the UK flew ½ ton of Beatles wigs to the USA, heralding The Great British Syrup Invasion, as American Pop Culture devotees remember it.  Erm, possibly.

Ahem.  Anyway, HCA would like to wish Olive and Fred many, many more birthdays, and hope that they’ll spend them with their pals at Millman Street Centre.


Ooh. You are awful…

Ray winstone-X

Ray regrets forgetting the twins’ birthday…


It’s just like watching Brazil…

Photos by Sarah; report: Notes Smudger

Posted in Activities, Atmospheric, Birthday Bash, Holborn, London, Therapeutic, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

#Love Mystery#Mysteries of Holborn


Is love mysterious? Read on and find out* (* don’t get your hopes up)

Today being St Valentine’s Day, we here at Mysteries of Holborn thought it apt that The Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre was celebrated in the spirit of the day.

So, what is, or indeed was, said Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre, then?  Surely not another slice of nonsense cobbled together to (a) exploit the topical commerciality of Valentine’s Day or (b) pad out (you guessed it) yet another otherwise threadbare blog post?

Bit of both, to be fair.  Anyway, what’s the story?  Well, word has it that The Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre occurred at some vague point before the modern age, and that its protagonists were (possibly) star-crossed lovers.  Neither of them were massacred, mind; indeed, they were in no mortal danger whatsoever throughout this increasingly uninteresting tale of romance and tenuous mystery.

However, love is thought (by some at least) to be mysterious.  Ill-defined, can’t-quite-put-yer-finger-on-it kind of thing.  Why, some even doubt that it exists at all, the cynical, joyless, blog-writing hacks –

Hold on, hold on.  Even this early into the article, it’s degenerated into the usual litany of this reporter’s myriad deficiencies, straying from the nominal subject matter like a, erm, like a metaphor/similie/sound-a-likey thingummybob etc.

The point is, erm…Hang on, what was the point of this, again?  Oh, yes.  That’s right: does true love really exist, and, if so, is it even the tiniest bit mysterious?  Or indeed even mysterious enough to warrant a supposed investigation into the mysterious (generally speaking)?

Broadly speaking, cynics think no; romantics disagree.  The Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre is only as mysterious (or not) as the reader will allow through the prism of his or her own respective prevailing viewpoint(s).

So that’s that cleared up, then…

Hold on a tick.  What has any of this to do with Holborn?  Some Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre this is!  Not even the usual tenuous link to Holborn to justify its inclusion in the Mysteries of Holborn series.

Quite so.  Next time, we return with more, erm, ‘genuine’ mysteries…

Nonsense by Notes Smudger


Posted in arts, Comedy, creative writing, Culture, Holborn, London, Nonsense, Therapeutic, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Farewell, Christina!


CEO Christina: leaving HCA

Holborn Community Association is today saying a fond farewell to Christina, our CEO since September.  Sadly, she has left HCA due to personal reasons.

In her stead, Paul Crozier – our Head of Operations – will become Director with immediate effect – “Going full time from the end of Feb,” he told staff at Millman Street Centre this morning.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Paul previously worked for other charities before joining HCA a couple of years back.  He has a great sense of humour – at least, this reporter hopes he was joking when he told the hapless hack to “Buck your ideas up, or you’ll be [REDACTED], [CENSORED] and [UNPRINTABLE]!”

Attempts to ingratiate himself with HCA’s new Director have already been self-sabotaged, as the only photos the sycophantic scribe has of Paul are of the usual quality (i.e: blurry) which he himself took.

All joking aside, we all hope that Paul’s tenure will be a memorable, enjoyable and productive one.  It’s far too early to outline his plans for the future of the charity, of course.  Rest assured, details will follow in due course.


Holborn Community Association would like to thank Christina for her time as our CEO.  Her leadership has helped HCA move closer to the goal of renovating Bedford House, and we wish her well in all of her future endeavours, and hope that she will return to visit us soon.

Fawning photos and obsequious outline: Notes Smudger

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#The Art of Portraiture at Millman Street Community Centre


Lene directs HCA’s New Arts Explosion

Each Monday morning at Millman Street Centre, there is an Art & Crafts workshop, hosted by Lene.  Her sessions have helped bring out the budding artist in many of our members.  Last week (February 5th) was no exception, with Millman Street regulars Margaret and David among those picking up pencils to sketch portraits.


Margaret’s David (not Michalangelo’s)…

Margaret’s work was a bust of David; his own subject was, erm, a little more unfathomable – the mark of an artist undaunted by non-representational art, perhaps.


David – an artwork in his own right…


Sarah’s own artistic medium – photography – was once again in evidence as she took snaps of the proceedings.  Perhaps fortuitously, this reporter wasn’t there to detract from the creative atmosphere with grandiose displays of artistic temperament and other such ponciness.  But he later had a go on the oils and brushes, as seen below:


HCA’s hack’s back as he paints Clio, the Muse of History

Only kidding.  The real creator of The Art of Painting was of course Johannes Vermeer, the 17th century master painter who lived and painted in Delft, in what is now the Netherlands.


Lene’s Art & Crafts workshops are conducted whenever the creative mood takes her and her aspiring artistes – as long as it takes them on Mondays between 10am and 12 noon.  HCA would like to thank her for providing our members with such an enjoyable creative outlet.

Photogenic snaps by Sarah; report by HCA’s enfant terrible, Notes Smudger

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#Holborn Man:Discovery of the Century?#Mysteries of Holborn

You’ve probably seen the news today, that Cheddar Man (who lived in Britain around 10,000 years ago) has disappointed a lot of racists by having dark skin.  Or maybe you recall the unearthing of various bog bodies over the years, including Lindow Bloke (nicknamed ‘Pete Marsh’) who was preserved for a couple of millenia in a peat bog in Cheshire, or fellow peat bog enthusiast Tollund Bloke, who lived in Scandinavia in the 4th Century BC.

Ah, but have you ever heard of Holborn Man?  Well, discovered as recently as just after morning tiffin today, when this reporter had the idea, Holborn Man has already begun to fascinate bonekickers (i.e: archaeologists), treasure hunters (i.e: ne’er-do-wells interested in a quick profit) and Friends of Peat Bog Inhabitants (the FoPBI).

Even more interest is predicted to be generated when a proper Professor explains to the media that Holborn Man has been given a fancy Latin title (Holebourne Hominis), which is sure to give the discovery gravitas in the eyes of those impressed by such things.

But what of Holborn Man himself?  Where exactly in Holborn were his well-preserved remains discovered?  Has he been given a nickname yet?  Or some other way of making him more relatable to today’s short-attention-spanners in the torrent of fake or fleeting news that engulfs us?  Just how long has Holborn Man been waiting to return to be probed, poked, x-rayed and DNA-tested by the surface-dwellers?

Regular readers, it is your cue to groan as this reporter reveals that the answers to all this and less are to be found in the Holborn Dodecahedron.  Yes, that’s right; another load of old cobblers (Erm, for “cobblers” read: Mysteries of Holborn).

The remains of Henry (Holborn Man’s working-title nickname) were found up near that bit of ground which (erm, thousands of years ago) used to be a peat bog; you know, just by what is now that shopping place, home or pub, but not as far away as that other one, no, not that one: that one, just along the road from erm…

Well, definitely in Holborn, anyway.  Ahem.  On discovery, the bonekickers’ nostrils were assailed by what one later described through anguished tears as “the reek of Brutish 33”, an aftershave he recalled being unaccountably popular in the 1970s.  Fanciful nonsense, of course; what would a body preserved for thousands of years be doing being drenched in Brutish 33?

Anyway, Henry wore a shiner and cauliflower ear on his head, along with over-generous sideboards and a five o’clock shadow.  Below the neck, he was clad in the remains of a ahem, tasteful, frilly cream-coloured shirt, purple and green chequered jacket, brown flared trousers and orange stack-heeled boots.  In his gaudy rings-festooned mitts he clutched a mouldering document.

With help from another impressive-sounding Professor, this was translated into modern English.  Which didn’t take long, as it had been written in English: it proved to be a joke book, featuring mother-in-law jokes so predictable that even the late, great Lew Dawson wouldn’t have touched them.

So who was Henry?  Well, a quick shufti in his wallet revealed several mouldering £1 notes, a couple of half-pence pieces and a faded business card that gave his name as Lenny Bigot.

After an intensive investigation by your HCA hack (and not 30 seconds on a search engine, no siree), it seems that Lenny disappeared, mysteriously of course, in the winter of 1974.  It turns out he was an up-and-coming 1970s-type pre-political correctness comedian – with all the horror which that implies.

Naturally, at the time of his disappearance, it was thought he had been lost in the Holborn Dodecahedron.  And no one bothered to look into the incident any further.

But now, equally mysteriously, the Dodecahedron had decided to return him, preserved in his early 70s pomp, to the present day.  The FoPBI declared Lenny a major find and wanted funding to study his frozen-in-time comedy (erm, correction: his frozen-in-time body).

However, yet a third Professor declared that there wasn’t much in the way of evidence of peat bogs in the Holborn area.  Further investigation of the site revealed that Lenny Bigot had slipped over on a slippery 1970s pavement on that cruel, slippery, rainy winter night so long ago, bashing his features on the hard concrete outside a Holborn hostelry before his drenched cadaver slipped down a nearby open sewer, lost forever (until being rediscovered, obvs).  Could excessive imbibing of alcohol have played a part in the goings-on?

Well, possibly.  However, after lunch today, there was some talk of Lenny being shoved down the sewer to his watery (yet preserving) tomb by the vengeful spirit of a Suffragette from 1918, annoyed at Lenny’s chauvinist material, but there was no evidence for this.  Indeed, it is thought that the Suffragette angle was introduced only because of the Centenary this week of (some) women finally being allowed to vote, another unusually topical reference in this report.

holborn Man

1974 preserved: Lenny Bigot…

Ahem.  Anyway, another Mystery of Holborn from the annals of the Holborn Dodecahedron has been resolved.  As much as any of them are, anyway.  And just in time to fill an otherwise threadbare blogpost, although that is quite coincidental….


Bluebottles force suffragette to read HCA hack’s blog…

Nonsense by Notes Smudger

PS: Check out this bloke-with-a-horse’s face: A real mystery at last?


Tiny man with huge horse face (Ruud van Nistelrooy?)



Posted in arts, Comedy, Culture, Holborn, London, Nonsense, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Wool Wanted#Shoebox Charity Appeal at Millman Street Community Centre


Wanted: wool for charity

Some of our members from Jane’s Knitting Circle are creating items for the Shoebox Appeal.  This is a charity which fills, erm, shoeboxes with clothes (hats, scarves, etc), shampoo, footballs and other necessities and treats for kids in Africa.

Much needed and much appreciated, in fact the Shoebox Appeal is so worthwhile a cause is it that, for once, even your HCA hack didn’t even think of how best to try to siphon off some of the donations in order to fund his digraceful inky-fingered activities.

Millman Street Centre’s knitting guru, Jane, along with volunteers Gloria and Theresa, and HCA members including Rose and Shonni, have been knitting, crocheting and generally knit one, purl one-ing in order to fill a shoebox or two for the appeal.

They would be grateful for any spare wool that anyone might care to donate.

Please contact via: www.holborncommunity.co.uk

Or: Millmanstreet@holborncommunity.co.uk

The Shoebox Appeal is being run by our friends at St George the Martyr church in Queen Square.  To get involved, please see the following details:

St George the Martyr church

44 Queen Square
London WC1N 3AH

+44 (0)20 7404 4407


To donate, please choose one of the following options:

Church Bank: The Co-Operative Bank plc
Name of Account: St George the Martyr PCC Expenses Account
Sort Code: 08 92 50
Account Number: 50108091
Ref: [Inital + Surname/SGH] eg JSmith/SGH

One off cash, cheque or bank transfer
One off donations, cheques (made payable to St George’s Holborn) or cash gifts can be sent into the office by post, or given as part of the Sunday collection (any cash gifts over £20 should be put in a gift aid envelope). Or if you have access to internet banking, online payments can be made to the church account (details above).

Text Giving
To donate, text the code STGH00 followed by the amount you want to donate (£2, £5 or £10) to 70070. For example, STGH00 £5. You will be charged you normal SMS rate plus the amount you donate – St George’s receives 100% of your donation.

Payroll Giving
Some employers will match your giving to charities. Give As You Earn is often administered by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). St George’s CAF reference number is: 31000430345.


Surprised by the poor quality of photography in this article?  Sadly, Sarah was busy with other work today, and so – Alas! – the photo-taking duties were placed in the unsafe pair of hands of this reporter, on top of his usual slaughter of the English langwidge…


Jane eyes dubious snapper…

Woolly photos and report by HCA’s great nit, Notes Smudger


Posted in Activities, arts, Charity Appeal, community, Culture, fundraising, Holborn, London, Spiritual, Therapeutic, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Wallace Collection at Millman Street Centre


Ghanaian warrior’s mask, circa 17th Century

Today, our friends from the Wallace Collection once again brought some of their priceless treasures to Millman Street Community Centre for the perusal of our members.

Simultaneously, HCA’s Activities Coordinator, Carmen, hosted a jewellery-making workshop.  The two separate events happily overlapped, imbuing the chill January air with an atmosphere of  creativity and art appreciation.

Anita and Frances from the Wallace Collection brought photographs of several priceless artefacts, including a 17th Century Ghanaian warrior’s gold mask.  “It’s extremely valuable,” Anita said.  “Very precious.  It’s the largest object made of gold out of Africa, apart from ancient Egypt,” she explained.

She also brought photos of a gold-enamelled corner cabinet designed “For a French Queen” and her sitting room.

Frances, meanwhile, showed George and other members images of swords and a water ewer, also objects d’art to be found in the Wallace Collection.


Badly-photographed swords


Costly, beautiful ewer (and Frances’s thumb)


Sacre bleu: French cabinet

Carmen’s jewellery-making workshop kept Margaret, Rose and Shonni busy, churning out tomfoolery that this dollar-sign-eyed spiv-hack hopes to flog as authentic sparklers at Hatton Garden [he writes, from his new mansion on the Costa Del Bling]…

Ahem.  Anyway, Sarah was otherwise engaged, and so, sadly, today’s photos were taken by this reporter – with his usual slipshod, out-of-focus bungled efforts blighting an otherwise pulchritudinous scene:

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Farcical photos and rotten report: Notes Smudger

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