"British politics has never seen a purer example of the Overton window than the referendum on membership of the EU." Brexit Blues, John Lanchester for LRB [more inside]
April 2015: The vault at the Hatton Garden Safety Deposit of London's Diamond district is ransacked by thieves. They score an estimated £14 to £35 million in cash, jewels and other valuables. The media calls it "the greatest heist in British history" and speculates about the acrobatic feats the gang must have used. London’s newspapers are filled with artists’ renderings of the heist, featuring hard-bodied burglars in black turtlenecks doing superhuman things. Experts insist that a foreign team of navy-SEAL-like professionals must have masterminded the theft. Nope. [more inside]
The Jihadis Next Door follows a small cadre of British born extremists, including a bouncy castle salesman turned alleged Daesh executioner and a part time bus driver who moonlights as an online theological superstar. Documentary maker Jamie Roberts, who spent two years filming the cell, was ambivalent about giving fundamentalists a platform, but as the film makes clear, this is not what mainstream Muslim Britain wants. [more inside]
Thurston Hopkins was a British photojournalist. Here is his black-and-white photo essay from the 1950's called Cats of London.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information request, Transport for London have released a geogrphically-accurate map of the tube. [PDF] [more inside]
Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis was engaged in 1897 as the restaurant reviewer of the Pall Mall Gazette, and his reviews of London restaurants are collected in Dinners and Diners: Where and How to Dine in London, available online from The Dictionary of Victorian London. Newnham-Davis was a bon vivant, amateur of the theatrical world, and man of parts, and his reviews were equal parts reminiscence of the conversation with his pseudonymous companions and recollections and reviews of his opulent and lengthy Victorian dinners. [more inside]
How to eat: burritos
"It may be categorised as 'street food', but eating a burrito while walking is hazardous. We've all been there: you take a bite from one side of the burrito, which leaves a quivering 'lip' of rice-loaded tortilla on the other, and, like a slow-motion shot in the world's most boring action film, it falls to the ground or down your shirt, before you can whip your head down and around to snaffle it to safety. Then there is the issue of leakage from the bottom of a too-loosely-twisted foil wrap, and also the delicate procedure of prising that, by now sopping wet, last mouthful from the final cup of foil – itself now overflowing with juices – and transferring it to your mouth without any spillage. It's a task that requires focus and concentration. You walk with a burrito once, twice maybe, before you either a) get knocked-down on a busy road or b) realise – standing outside the pub trying to wipe meat juices off your trainers with an old tissue – that eating and walking is a false economy, time-wise.[more inside]
Ayn Rand: More Relevant Now than Ever
The speaker was the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen. As the head of an investment bank based in socialist Denmark, Christensen is particularly enraged by high taxation, social welfare and banking regulation. "The world is on the wrong track," he told us. "A malady that has long beset Europe is currently spreading to the US". Apparently we are experiencing a "socialist revival" to which "Ayn Rand is the only answer".
British capitalism already has many of the hallmarks of Brezhnev-era socialist decline: macroeconomic stagnation, a population as much too bored as scared to protest about very much, a state that performs tongue-in-cheek legitimacy, politicians playing with statistics to try and delay the moment of economic reckoning. Will Davies on the stagnation and repetition of neoliberal economic culture.
As you turn eyes to London to watch this year's Olympics, you might be surprised to find out that the City of London has a population of about 11,000 and is only one square mile. [more inside]
The BBC's new Olympics 2012 ad (full 2m40s version; SLYT) is a CGI masterpiece for the video gamer era. (best viewed with YouTube HD resolution settings on) [more inside]
As a flag-waving Britain prepares for the Jubilee/Olympics (or in the words of the comedy Twenty Twelve, 'Jubilympics'), the nation seems divided between the wildly enthusiastic and those suffering from Patriotism Fatigue(link may be NSFW). James Ward (of Boring fame) does a round-up of spurious Jubilympic themed products, after consumption of which you may require a sick bag.
"Everyone knows there’s a catastrophe unfolding, that few can afford to live in their own city. It was not always so." - China Miéville on Apocalyptic London
London Metropolitan Police formulated policy of refusing bail to all arrested in London riots which might have influenced high remand in custody rate.
The British Film Institute has a youtube channel with rare footage going back over 100 years, covering many aspects of British life. Highlights include: 'Solarflares Burn For You' (1973) (featuring a soundtrack by Robert Wyatt); Rush Hour, Waterloo Station (1970); London Bridge (1926); Productivity Primer (1964); Today in Britain (1964); Snow (1963); Holiday (1957).
London Lives 12 London archives – digitised, marked up and tagged – to "create a comprehensive electronic edition of primary sources on criminal justice and the provision of poor relief and medical care in eighteenth-century London". The Lives page is a good place to start browsing. [related]
"Half a million dirty Britons wash their bed sheets only three times a year, a survey discloses laying bare the disgusting bedroom habits of the nation. One in six people also admitted waiting at least a month before washing their bed sheets." "Londoners have the dirtiest bed sheets in the country." [more inside]
"Let them arrest me". Vehemently anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders was scheduled to travel to London tomorrow to attend a screening of his controversial short film Fitna (wiki, mefi). Yesterday however, the UK's Home Secretary notified Wilders that his presence in the UK would pose a "serious threat to [...] public security" (PDF), presumably intending to refuse his entry into UK. Wilders plans to board the flight anyway, daring British authorities to arrest him. [more inside]
Last Year I Killed A Man, by Vaughan Thomas. Published Saturday July 19, 2008 by The Guardian.
The British Olympic Committee unveiled the logo and branding for London 2012 today, at a cost of £400,000 (USD796,000). Reaction has been swift - a petition to change the logo or go back to the old one has already reached 10,000 signatures.
The Exploring 20th century London project draws on some 8000 items from the Museum of London, Transport Museum, Jewish Museum and the Museum of Croydon. Material includes photos, drawings, posters, artefacts, sound files etc. Browse/search by theme, timeline and location. [sitemap]
'He's God's gift to today's political cartoonist': Misunderestimating the President through Cartoons, an exhibition of the work of leading political cartoonists from both the UK and the United States focusing on their depictions of George Bush, opens today in London at the Political Cartoon Gallery. Watch the video report from Channel 4 and read essays on the history of political cartoons.
What you get when a Cars Salesman is your Ambassador Do you get the idea that this whole administration is new to this whole diplomacy thing It seems the only way the truth is admitted is under glaring pressure by our allies.
Not letting people take in the wrong soft drink. Making a band change its name. 'The new bill will make it illegal to combine words like "games", "medals", "gold", "2012", "sponsor" or "summer" in any form of advertising.' I'm kind of starting to hate the olympics.
"At this moment, I am proud to be a citizen of a country that has done more than most to help the US get rid of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. And I think that it would do other Europeans some good to think again about what their countries have achieved, if anything, to try to stem the tide of dictatorships and terrorism around the world. They should wonder whether they are really asking themselves the hard questions. Or whether they are shrugging their shoulders and blaming America because that is what they have been brought up to do." A thoughtful & conflicted post from the anti-war Englishman in New York reflecting on the London bombings.
Londonistan. Some say Britain overdoing tolerance. In some areas, it’s a shock to see a woman without her head covered. Britain had been too squeamish about respecting Muslims' rights. It is to be hoped that Blair will rise to level of Nelson's exhortation that "England expects that every man will do his duty."
To what extent will Britain comply with demands for change from the conservative right?
To what extent will Britain comply with demands for change from the conservative right?
Pick your poison: highbrow (virtual tour of 10 Downing Street), or lowbrow (virtual tour of the White House). Hint: one of these is funny.
Boudicca (also known as Boadicea) was the queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe in eastern Britain in 60 AD. As recorded by Tacitus and Cassius Dio, she led a brutal revolt against the Romans and razed London and Southwark. There's a famous statue of her at Westminster Bridge, and Masterpiece Theatre has produced a new historical drama about her, Warrior Queen.
Easycinema - Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of the European no-frills airline Easyjet, is planning to open Easycinema, the first of what he hopes to be a no-frills theater chain, in Britain (the London suburb of Milton Keynes) on Friday. All ticket buying will be conducted on the Internet (there will be no box office at the theater); tickets must be printed out at home; early buyers can purchase tickets for as little as $.35, while tickets purchased on the day of the screenings will cost $8.00; there will be no concession counter, no trailers, no ads. In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, Easycinema claimed that movie distributors representing the majors have balked at providing new releases or even quality second-runs.
Laughter capital of the world? "Declining audiences, dull material, complacent comics: a crisis is looming ....London suddenly appears to be in the grip of a recession for the first time since the alternative comedy boom took off at the beginning of the 1980s." From a nation exporting Bill Bailey(live in NYC this week) ,Eddie Izzard, Ali G, can this really be happening? (BTW I always thought Canada tried to lay a claim to this crown?)
This is not what the travel agent told me Kabul looked like! Report in London times of British Muslim who went over to join the Taliban war effort and found out they were nothing but "lunatics and liars." Question: Should he be allowed back into Britain and if so, should he be tried for treason?
Comedian Rowan Atkinson is understandably nervous about his career in the light of proposed laws in the UK to outlaw insightment to religious bigotry. Having built his career from playing comedy vicars and priests you can imagine him wondering if all his old material is suddenly worthless. Downing Street has sought to re-assure as usual but you can see why he'd be filled with uncertainty. As he points out in a situation were personal opinion is involved, how would one tell if one was breaking the law. For example, some stand up comedy may be fine, but how about movies? Where does 'The Life of Brian' stand? Or 'Dogma' for that matter...
Gustavus Adolphus must be smiling. The Stockholm Stock Exchange has launched a hostile takeover bid for the London Stock Exchange. My Swedish in-laws must be so proud. Or, um, not...