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"The Little Big Man of the London underworld"

RIP 'Mad' Frankie Fraser aka The Dentist, ex enforcer for the Richardson gang and declared Britain's 'most dangerous man' by two Home Secretaries, spending 42 years in prison. In his later years he found work as an after dinner speaker, television personality and tour guide (last year he received an Asbo after an argument in his old people's home over someone sitting in his favourite chair)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Nov 27, 2014 - 21 comments

Hey you, don't watch that watch this!

This is the heavy heavy monster sound, the nuttiest sound around so if you've come in off the street and you're beginning to feel the heat, well listen buster you better start to move your feet to the rockinest, rock-steady beat of Madness... One Step Beyond!
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Nov 25, 2014 - 47 comments

British Breakdown

People that like Slugs are mostly males, aged 25-39, live in Northern Scotland, are far right politically and work in mining and quarrying. Favourite dishes are Spinach Risotto followed by Fidget Pie. They like bird watching and cycling. They describe themselves as alternative but on occasion silly. They are online for 36-40 hours per week and read the Guardian and New Scientist.
Whereas people that like Jellyfish are likely to be female, aged 25-39, live in the north east, are far left politically and work in research and development. Their favourite dish is Vegetarian Sausage Roll followed by Hunter's Stew. They like looking after their pets and archery. They describe themselves as idiosyncratic and on occasion withdrawn. They are online for 50+ hours per week and read the Guardian and New Scientist. [more inside]
posted by unliteral on Nov 17, 2014 - 63 comments

You wanna understand America, don't come here — go to the movies

Rich Hall’s How The West Was Lost (What started with Red River mostly ended with Blazing Saddles; from 20th C. cultural behemoth to object of satire; the Western genre and the archetype of the cowboy.)

There’s a tradition of Brits coming to the US to explain this young country and expose the folks back home to America. From Charles William Janson and Thomas Ashe on through Stephen Fry and Jeremy Clarkson, foreigners with funny accents and strange vocabulary have set foot on American soil in an effort to explore the place and its people. But for the Brits to truly understand America, two things might be necessary: an American expat and (more importantly) MOVIES! Because an insider’s take on Hollywood’s misportrayal, mythmaking, stereotypes, historical ignorance, misunderstanding, bullshit, and skewed lens through which we see (and are shown) ourselves as Americans can get pretty interesting as well as informative.

Stuff like: [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Nov 16, 2014 - 19 comments

A pound of flesh for 50p

Artist Alex Chinneck has constructed a full-sized wax building which is slowly being melted from the top down. For the last twelve months the artist has collaborated with chemists, wax manufacturers and engineers to develop visually convincing wax bricks that transform in the most sculpturally effective way. The installation is part of the 2014 Merge Festival.
posted by showbiz_liz on Nov 15, 2014 - 19 comments

on a frolic of his own

‘You do not need to deliver the fatal blow or even be at the actual scene of the killing to be found guilty and sent to jail,’ Detective Inspector John McFarlane said after the conviction of 17 of the 20 young people jointly charged with the murder of 15-year-old Sofyen Belamouadden at Victoria Station in March 2010: ‘the law on joint enterprise is clear and unforgiving.’ [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Oct 25, 2014 - 24 comments

The Murderers Next Door

The Edwards were spooked. Christopher stole £10,000 from his employer and they ran away to Lille, De Gaulle’s birthplace. But they couldn’t access the Wycherleys’ account from abroad, Christopher couldn’t find work, and their money ran out. Instead of selling the memorabilia they’d brought with them, in desperation Christopher rang his elderly stepmother, Elizabeth Edwards, confessed to burying Susan’s parents and asked for money to save him and Susan from prison. If the memorabilia hadn’t mattered so much, no one would know today that the Wycherleys were under the lawn. It could have been the perfect crime. But Elizabeth Edwards called the police. The Murderers Next Door.
posted by Ghostride The Whip on Oct 25, 2014 - 17 comments

Woof.

A review of the uncomfortable, colonialist-islander RPG, Dog Eat Dog
posted by michaelh on Oct 22, 2014 - 32 comments

\|/ \|/ \|/ \|/ practical (& fun) conservation in coppicing \|/ \|/ \|/

It is easy to think of woodlands as wild places, but in the UK and Europe, most have been carefully managed for centuries. If you visit an ancient woodland in Europe at this time of year, you may well see small areas where the trees are being cut down to the base, but the stumps left behind. This is likely to be part of a traditional woodland practice called coppicing. Until about 150 years ago, most deciduous woodlands in the UK were coppiced to produce wood for use in a variety of industries, but today coppicing is largely only practised for woodland conservation. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Oct 22, 2014 - 22 comments

Tory Peer: "Pay disabled people £2 per hour"

A Conservative welfare minster has apologised after suggesting that disabled people are "not worth" the national minimum wage and some could only be paid "£2 an hour". Lord Freud, the Welfare Reform minister admitted the comments were "offensive” after they were disclosed by Ed Miliband during Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. The Labour leader has called on the Tory peer to resign.
posted by marienbad on Oct 17, 2014 - 68 comments

Meet the Mumbles Train, the very first fare-based passenger train

Mumbles Railway, the first public railway On 25 March 1807, the very same day that the British Parliament passed a Bill to outlaw the transatlantic trade in slaves, Swansea took its place in history with the inauguration of the world’s first passenger railway. [more inside]
posted by Michele in California on Oct 7, 2014 - 6 comments

"The Twist was a form of therapy for a convalescing nation."

Music historian/nerd Neil Transpontine's blog "History is made at night" covers the "politics of dancing and musicking" -- from the riots at Lou Reed's concerts in Italy in 1975, demonstrations against the "anti-rave" Criminal Justice & Public Order Act of 1994 (UK) to present-day protests in New Orleans against a proposed noise ordinance. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Oct 5, 2014 - 7 comments

Cassetteboy - Cameron's Conference Rap

"I'm hardcore and I know the score And I am disgusted by the poor..." [NSFWish lyrics] [more inside]
posted by metaBugs on Oct 1, 2014 - 24 comments

Cut square and stamped with a proper stamp of the happy union and baked

"Nowadays, we tend to eat biscuits with beverages like tea and coffee. But in the past they were an important element of the dessert course and were dipped into sweet wine." - Food History Jottings (previously) on the strange world of Regency biscuits. (Cookies to you US types.)
posted by The Whelk on Sep 9, 2014 - 25 comments

Twenty four days to go

The second televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling is to be shown across the UK tonight. After a lacklustre first debate, the final days of the referendum campaign are ticking down. There are signs of growing momentum for the Yes side, with undecideds moving to Yes in some polls and the 'Yes Declaration' recently hitting a million signatures. But the Better Together campaign still has some heavy hitters on side, with Sir Ian Wood recently casting doubt on oil extraction figures he had previously agreed with. [more inside]
posted by Happy Dave on Aug 25, 2014 - 223 comments

Well I'll Go To The Foot Of Our Stairs

British subtitles
posted by The Whelk on Aug 20, 2014 - 32 comments

A Boy and His Dog

A young boy named Owen who has a very rare muscle condition called Schwartz Jampel Syndrome, as well as agoraphobia, had his life changed when his parents rescued a young Anatolian Shepherd named Haatchi who lost a leg after being deliberately tied to a railroad line in North London and hit by a train.
posted by gman on Aug 6, 2014 - 19 comments

to end all wars

First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers
"On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
posted by flex on Aug 4, 2014 - 27 comments

It's a truth universally recognized that you have no game

How to pick up genteel women in the 18th Century according to period guides.
posted by The Whelk on Aug 2, 2014 - 17 comments

Veto bunnies

Who uses their veto in the UN Security Council the most, and what for?
posted by tavegyl on Jul 31, 2014 - 16 comments

Morph is Back

Morph is a plasticine man, star of many short animated films made for the BBC from the 1970s onwards by Aardman Animations, who would later use the similar techniques for Wallace & Gromit. A Kickstarter campaign last year has paid for 12 new one minute episodes. [more inside]
posted by DanCall on Jul 22, 2014 - 4 comments

The Many Faces Of Commuter Fustration

Attention Tim O'Toole : You are the CEO of First Capital Connect and my train is late almost every day. I'm going to change your face every time my train is delayed. (SLTP)
posted by The Whelk on Jul 12, 2014 - 49 comments

By hook or by crook, we will.

A man wearing a dark blazer with white braiding steps out from behind what looks to be a giant white balloon. A penny-farthing sits in the foreground. Cheerily, he addresses the camera: "Hi, I'm Scott Apel, video critic for the San Jose Mercury News, and I'm here to welcome you again to The Prisoner, one of the most intriguing and most talked about television series ever made..." (YT) [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 7, 2014 - 27 comments

'felt they are being blamed for their own marginalization'

FT: A Portrait Of Europe's [well, at least the UK's] White Working Class [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 16, 2014 - 29 comments

"The Clash would have KILLED to have come from Derry"

Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, was a dangerous place to be in the late 1970s. With bombs, shootings, British Army Patrols, riots on the streets, and The Ramones and New York Dolls on the turntable, the most punk thing 5 Catholic lads could do was to sing upbeat songs about adolescent lust, girls, getting nowhere with said girls, and the general struggles of being young. In the bleeding heart of The Troubles, The Undertones escaped by dreaming of a life more ordinary. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Jun 11, 2014 - 38 comments

Sunday Times Rich List 'wealthier than ever'

"Britain's richest people are wealthier than ever before, with a combined fortune of almost £520bn, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. The total wealth of the richest 1,000 individuals, couples or families jumped 15% in a year, the survey said. Wealth expert Philip Beresford, who compiled the list, said he had never before seen such a "phenomenal" rise in personal fortune... Mr Beresford said: "The richest people in Britain have had an astonishing year. While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country." - The total figure for the Rich List is equivalent to a third of the UK's gross domestic product."
posted by marienbad on May 18, 2014 - 44 comments

"..impale the arms of his husband with his own.."

At long last the College Of Arms has released offical guidelines on the effects of same-sex marriage on heraldry.
posted by The Whelk on May 6, 2014 - 108 comments

May the road rise up to meet you.

The Roader’s Digest is ‘the most complete archive of information on the British and Irish road networks on the web.’ from the A1 to the R999; from the B3306 to the B855, they probably have a description of it. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on May 6, 2014 - 20 comments

A message for the Secretary of State for Education

"Dear Mr Gove" - a poem by Jess Green.
posted by EndsOfInvention on Apr 4, 2014 - 16 comments

Your Culture Is Stupid And I Hate It

Transcontinental Yelling With Jo (An Englishwoman) and Mallory (An American)
posted by Joe in Australia on Mar 15, 2014 - 89 comments

Tony Benn (1925-2014)

Acknowledged to be one of the few British politicians who became more left-wing after having actually served in government, former veteran left-wing campaigner Tony Benn has died at home aged 88. Tony was a British Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament (MP) for 50 years, and a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. His legacy can be seen in postage, in the powerful five questions, the speeches he gave, and his diaries.
posted by Wordshore on Mar 14, 2014 - 84 comments

Rest in power.

Arguably the most successful UK trade union leader of our time, the tireless Bob Crow, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has passed away.
posted by Mistress on Mar 11, 2014 - 37 comments

"Page 3 v breast cancer"

The Sun's page 3 has been featuring nude women since the 1970s. Last week the British newspaper teamed up with CoppaFeel, a young charity for breast cancer awareness, to inspire women to touch their own breasts. The headline reads "Page 3 v breast cancer", next to a model in a pair of underpants who barely covers her breasts. Readers are encouraged to ‘Check ‘Em Tuesday’ and post pics on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #checkemtuesday.

While some applaud the newspaper for putting an important women’s health issue on the front page, others are against the sexist representation of women and concerned it could trivialize breast cancer.

Not only due to the titillating images on page 3, The Sun's readership is still mostly male. So does this campaign exist for women?
posted by travelwithcats on Mar 9, 2014 - 53 comments

London Calling

Britain will betray the United States and Ukraine to keep laundering dirty Russian money. "The city has changed. The buses are still dirty, the people are still passive-aggressive, but something about London has changed. You can see signs of it everywhere. The townhouses in the capital’s poshest districts are empty; they have been sold to Russian oligarchs and Qatari princes."
posted by four panels on Mar 8, 2014 - 67 comments

The biggest data breach ever in the UK

Care data is an ambitious attempt to use data to improve the care of patients in the UK. It uses the scale of the NHS dataset to give epidemiologists and medically researchers access to large datasets to improve research. And now it's been thrown into disarray by the responsible body selling the information to insurance companies and even more .... [more inside]
posted by Gilgongo on Mar 3, 2014 - 40 comments

"Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted"

Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. "We were not aware of nor would we condone this reported activity," a Yahoo spokesperson says in a statement to The Verge. But...what about all the webcam sex?
posted by josher71 on Feb 27, 2014 - 39 comments

It matters to me

In March 1993 Bikini Kill toured the UK. "It Changed My Life" is a film about that tour, with openers Huggy Bear, & contributions by the Raincoats, Sister George, and Skinned Teen. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Feb 26, 2014 - 14 comments

Lord Cobham was burnt alive, but I forget what for

15 year old Jane Austen wrote a satrical history of English monarchs and now you can read it.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 25, 2014 - 19 comments

American Deep Blues Touring 1960's Britain

The American Folk Blues Festival 1962 - 1966; Vol 2; Vol 3 - The festival was an annual event with dozens of classic blues greats like Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf playing to appreciative UK audiences. "Attendees at Manchester in 1962, the first ever venue for the festival in Britain, included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Jimmy Page. Subsequent attendees at the first London festivals are believed to have also included such influential musicians as Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, and Steve Winwood. Collectively these were the primary movers in the blues explosion that would lead to the British Invasion." [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Feb 23, 2014 - 19 comments

Don't Talk

Queen's 1982 dance funk single "Body Language" represented a rare move away from their glam stadium anthems into a more spare, disco-driven beat inter-cut with a moaning Freddie Mercury. The accompanying video, full of exposed flesh and suggestive lyrics, was deemed inappropriate for US TV and was one of the first music videos barred from MTV.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 14, 2014 - 56 comments

OK, in our defense, Europe is really complicated.

Americans Try To Place European Countries On A Map, Brits have similar results attempting to place US States on a map.
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 14, 2014 - 157 comments

100 Not Out

When British forces pull down the union jack for the last time in Afghanistan this year, it will be a hugely symbolic moment. It is not just that the departure marks the end of 13 years of British involvement in combat in that troubled country. The surprise is that it could also signal the end of a century or more of unbroken warfare by British forces. Next year may be the first since at least 1914 that British soldiers, sailors and air crews will not be engaged in fighting somewhere. [more inside]
posted by Jakey on Feb 13, 2014 - 47 comments

DevArt

DevArt: An exhibition of art created with code - skywriting quadcopter drones programmed with c++, room dividers reimagined as 3D screens for psychedelic projections, using raspberry pi to rename WiFi networks as lines of poetry. They are collaborating with the Barbican in London for the Digital Revolution exhibition and are currently seeking an emerging creative coder to be funded to present at the exhibition alongside world-class interactive artists Zach Lieberman, Karsten Schmidt, and the duo of Varvara Guljajeva & Mar Canet.
posted by divabat on Feb 6, 2014 - 2 comments

Con Men! Artistocrats! Nancy Boys! Radiothearpy and More!

The Trickster Prince is academic and historian Matt Houlbrook's blog about the ephemera and little-known stories of the English inter-war period (and before) with a focus on class-jumping, queer narratives, "faking it", and urban society in the 20s and 30s.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 5, 2014 - 13 comments

Undercover - Keep it all out of sight

George Monbiot - "...Before I explain it, here’s a summary of what we know already. Thanks to the remarkable investigations pursued first by the victims of police spies and then by the Guardian journalists Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (whose book Undercover is as gripping as any thriller), we know that British police have been inserting undercover officers into protest movements since 1968(2). Their purpose was to counter what they called subversion or domestic extremism, which they define as seeking to “prevent something from happening or to change legislation or domestic policy … outside the normal democratic process”(3). Which is a good description of how almost all progressive change happens."
posted by marienbad on Feb 5, 2014 - 50 comments

STRENGTH YOUR BLOOD AND SHADOW

At first sight the search for peace and stability in Iraq, and the search for physical and mental fitness in the extreme contortions of modern Yoga seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But curiously they do. Both the terrible structural problems and distortions that underly Iraqi society today, and the strange, contorted poses that millions of people perform every day in things like Bikram's Hot Yoga, actually come from the fevered imagination of the British ruling class one hundred years ago. As they felt Britain's power declining they wanted desperately to go back into the past and create a purer and more innocent world, uncorrupted by the messiness of the modern industrial world - a new Eden forged both by strengthening and purifying the human body and by inventing new model countries round the world. And we are still suffering from the consequences of that terrible nostalgia. BODYBUILDING AND NATION-BUILDING
posted by timshel on Feb 4, 2014 - 11 comments

Introducing Former UKIP Spokesman, Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto

A man who served as UKIP's Commonwealth spokesman for a year is the former leader of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan, BBC Newsnight can reveal. Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto's gang were behind a high-profile kidnapping in Karachi in 2004 and he then took a £56,000 ransom payment in Manchester. In 2005, Bhutto, of Leeds, admitted being the gang's "boss" and was jailed for seven years by a UK court. UKIP said Bhutto, 35, had "recently" resigned his party membership.
posted by marienbad on Feb 4, 2014 - 26 comments

Feeling sad about the Axolotl? This beaver may make you happier.

A beaver is alive and well in England, about 800 years after the last one was seen alive. Of course the big question remains: Where the heck did the beaver come from?
posted by Mezentian on Jan 30, 2014 - 37 comments

Apparently you could make it up.

13 reasons why I am taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission Jon Danzig deconstructs and demolishes a Daily Mail immigration story. [DM story: Sold out! Flights and buses full as Romanians and Bulgarians head for the UK]
posted by jaduncan on Jan 26, 2014 - 26 comments

“experts in life on the dole”

Double serving of media critique on the proliferation of "poverty porn" TV (in the UK) over at Sociological Imagination with "A Summer of Television Poverty Porn" and "Pride, Propaganda and Poverty Porn: On Benefits and Proud." Programs under discussion include We Pay All Your Benefits, How to Get a Council House, Benefits Britain 1949, On Benefits and Proud. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Jan 26, 2014 - 18 comments

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