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Observing the 80s

Joe Moran reflects on the 1980s: "We like to give decades a uniform character as they retreat into history, safely burying the past by turning it into retro kitsch. The Observing the 1980s project is valuable because it does not treat the decade like this, as a story we already know the ending to. Instead it becomes an era of still-to-be-decided tensions and possibilities - one in which people sincerely people that David Steel might be prime minister (“my pin-up!” says one Mass Observer), that Margaret Thatcher might lose an election, or that the neo-liberal economic revolution might still be reversed. How I miss that sense of earnestness – and I mean that without a trace of irony." [more inside]
posted by Gilgongo on Feb 27, 2013 - 7 comments

Two wheels bad, four wheels good

Following a parent-governor meeting at North Downs Primary School last Thursday, pupils will be banned from cycling and walking to two primary school sites over fears it would be too dangerous.
posted by unSane on Feb 25, 2013 - 49 comments

Scandinavia or bust. Quite possibly literally.

Bloomberg: "Britain [UK] lost its top credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited weakness in the nation’s growth outlook and challenges to the government’s fiscal consolidation program. The rating on the U.K. was lowered one level to AA1 from AAA and the outlook on the nation’s debt changed to stable from negative, Moody’s said in a statement yesterday." [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Feb 23, 2013 - 50 comments

The Everyday Sexism Project

The Everyday Sexism Project collects user-submitted reports from women to document their day-to-day experiences with normalized sexism, including sexual harassment and job discrimination. Entries can be submitted at the site, in an email to founder Laura Bates or to their twitter account. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 20, 2013 - 200 comments

Why have the white British left London?

"With a time-lapse camera, it would appear that London is pulsing as generations and ethnic groups move up and move out." The BBC reports that something quite remarkable happened in London in the first decade of the new millennium. The number of white British people in the capital fell by 620,000 - equivalent to the entire population of Glasgow moving out. [more inside]
posted by iffley on Feb 20, 2013 - 47 comments

It's a Mash-Up...in a Sausage and Mash Shop...

Cockney English, once frowned upon as an unsavory dialect in the UK, has endured over the centuries, becoming a hallmark of London's East End culture. Though the demographics of that area have changed within recent decades, the rhyming slang of old still persists in that region's streets - on ATM machines.
posted by Smart Dalek on Feb 14, 2013 - 8 comments

The Other 11 Doctors

An alternate history of Women cast as of Doctor Who
posted by Artw on Feb 9, 2013 - 86 comments

Fortress UK

The Last Stand - the remains of the Britain's coastal defences photographed by Marc Wilson.
posted by Artw on Feb 5, 2013 - 24 comments

There were four in the bed and the little one said "squeeze up"

From April 2013 all working-age housing benefit claimants will experience a reduction in their benefit if their home has what is termed a 'spare bedroom'. Some people have a problem with this, and it is believed it will plunge 95,000 Britons into poverty. Prime Minister David Cameron has defended the tax saying it is important to "get control of housing benefit". Some who voted for the tax claim to have never heard of it, even though there are some high profile cases in the media detailing how people will suffer. The Bedroom Tax might be targeting the poor, but there may be a Mansion Tax in the planning stages to help balance the scales -- or not. It's a modern Window Tax!
posted by Mezentian on Feb 3, 2013 - 121 comments

Henry the VIII's Wine Cellar

Who knew that Henry the VIII's wine cellar was preserved inside the Ministry of Defense building? [more inside]
posted by zzazazz on Feb 2, 2013 - 15 comments

The Streets Aren't Paved With Gold, Even Under All the Vomit

One point needs to be made clear. It's not that the British government dislikes Bulgarians or Romanians; somebody needs to pick up the slack now the Polish builders have become too expensive. They're just worried that people in Budapest or Sofia don't know that Britain is, well, a bit shit, that you can't find a decent goulash for love nor money and that you may just not like it there. So they're proposing an ad campaign to warn of the dangers of living in Britain. Knowning that in this, its darkest hour, their country needs them, Guardian readers have responded in their literal dozens to contribute ad ideas. It's not as if they're short on material, after all.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 30, 2013 - 102 comments

If you want art, don't mess about with movies. Buy a Picasso.

RIP Michael Winner, director of the Death Wish series among others, restaurant critic, Esure advert star (remix) and clean underpants wearer.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 21, 2013 - 24 comments

Amazon Sounds £13.99

Last One Falling - photographer Amy Connolly documented the last days of a Liverpool branch of HMV whilst working there in 2011, a stark contrast to the images of the flagship store in the sixties and seventies (previously). The chain yesterday announced it was entering administration after 91 years on the high street. [more inside]
posted by mippy on Jan 15, 2013 - 29 comments

Is antigingerism a hate crime?

In the New Statesman, Nelson Jones argues that prejudice against red-haired people in Britain should be addressed by hate crime legislation. [more inside]
posted by acb on Jan 15, 2013 - 114 comments

The sale of the century

How We Happened to Sell Off Our Electricity is James Meek's dissection of the systematic re-privatisation of the UK power industry.
Are you an enemy of liberal principles if you question the fact that, when local electrical engineers dig up the roads in London, they’re working for East Asia’s richest man, the Hong Kong-based Li Ka-shing? In north-east England, they work for Warren Buffett; in Birmingham, Cardiff and Plymouth, the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company; in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool, Iberdrola; in Manchester, a consortium of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and a J.P. Morgan investment fund.

posted by scruss on Jan 10, 2013 - 20 comments

British Problems

A few select posts from the politest, most quietly despairing subreddit, r/Britishproblems (background)
posted by The Whelk on Jan 9, 2013 - 76 comments

Persistence prays

Chagos Islanders Lose the European Court Battle but the Struggle Continues Former residents of the Chagos Islands have lost their latest legal bid for the right to return following a European ruling. What next for the islanders? James Wan recaps the decades long struggle and the implications of the latest ruling on the fate of the former residents of Diego Garcia. Previously in 2002, 2003 2006 and some archives.
posted by infini on Jan 5, 2013 - 32 comments

So I voted for an axe-murderer

A new MP, Gloria De Piero was taken aback by how many people despised her because of her new profession. So she took to the streets to find out why. [more inside]
posted by smoke on Jan 2, 2013 - 20 comments

Michael Buerk Attacks BBC, the media, the privately educated, and inequality

Michael Buerk: ""The arts, low and high, are dominated by them. The BBC is a private-school old boys' and girls' association. They edit most newspapers, even the Leftish Daily Mirror and the Guardian", he wrote."

Buerk also criticised the BBC's coverage of the Jubilee : "saying it was "cringingly inept" and had left him ashamed."

Michael Buerk rants about the BBC, the media and the UK.
posted by marienbad on Dec 31, 2012 - 54 comments

Not like the other bands

Teeth of the Sea are a quartet of clean-cut young men from North London. They work in shops. Together, they make a near indescribable noise, a bit like Sketches of Spain-era Miles Davis recordings reimagined by slightly scary, 30-something metalheads with a thing for Euro-sleaze cinema, cheap lager, philosophy and noise rock. They are, genuinely, not like other bands. [more inside]
posted by Sonny Jim on Dec 31, 2012 - 9 comments

Cherokee, Dirty Harry and Big Billy

1973 news report on the training of Glasgow bouncers, This Week: Documentary about 1960s Glasgow Gangs
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 26, 2012 - 7 comments

Poverty in the UK during the 1930s

"Yet when I went before the Public Assistance Committee [to plead for more benefit] they asked me if the baby was being breast-fed and when I said yes, they reduced the allowance for a child.' [Daily Mail - Although not their usual fare].
posted by marienbad on Dec 25, 2012 - 12 comments

Who! Who! Who! Merry Christmas!

This year's festive Doctor Who Christmas episode will feature a new companion, a new theme tune and title sequence and a new look to the Tardis interior! But look out for those scary Snowmen! [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 24, 2012 - 121 comments

Come on ladies!

The UK Christmas No.1 spot in recent years remains dominated by reality jugganaut The X-Factor, despite a successful campaign to get a nice sweary number to the top spot (previously) and a surprise challenge from some singing spouses. This year the Cowell complanceny is being challenged by a charity single to support victims of the Hillsborough disaster - but there's a dark horse, or should that be...a dark fish?
posted by mippy on Dec 21, 2012 - 11 comments

Everybody live for the music-go-round

Kim Wilde serenades passengers on a train (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 14, 2012 - 63 comments

That's me in the corner

The findings for England and Wales from the 2011 British Census have now been released. The BBC provides a handy guide to changes by area while The Guardian has a neat infographic and a set of Top 10 Charts. [more inside]
posted by MuffinMan on Dec 13, 2012 - 18 comments

Food History Jottings

Ivan Day has a food history blog. So does India Mandelkern. [more inside]
posted by zamboni on Dec 12, 2012 - 5 comments

Rebel Radio '98

In April 1998, Ninja Tune duo Up Bustle & Out traveled from Bristol to Havana. They were greeted by legendary flautist Richard Egües, who would be their guide to meeting and recording a number of Cuban musicians over the next two months. The result was the two-volume Rebel Radio: The Master Sessions, an adventurous meeting point between 'the smokeyness of Bristol and the coolness of Havana'. UB&O's Rupert Mould kept a journal which he would later publish as The Rebel Radio Diaries.
posted by mannequito on Dec 8, 2012 - 7 comments

Report of the UK Leveson inquiry into the conduct of the press published

"For the seventh time in less than 70 years, a report has been commissioned by the Government which has dealt with concerns about the press. It was sparked by public revulsion about a single action – the hacking of the mobile phone of a murdered teenager. From that beginning, the scope of the Inquiry was expanded to cover the culture, practices and ethics of the press in its relations with the public, with the police, with politicians and, as to the police and politicians, the conduct of each."
The report, in four volumes of around 500 pages each, is available for download.
posted by rjs on Dec 7, 2012 - 38 comments

London's Brilliant Parade

The winners and runners-up in the second annual Shit London photography awards, celebrating the city's ugliest buildings, worst shop names and most depressing views (Guardian.co.uk)
posted by The Whelk on Dec 6, 2012 - 21 comments

The Woolworths Choir of 1979

The 2012 Turner Prize for modern art has been awarded to video artist Elizabeth Price for her work The Woolworths Choir of 1979 (excerpt). Price beat a number of contenders, including visual artist Paul Noble (nominated for a series of pencil drawings of a fantastic metropolis named Nobson Newtown), Luke Fowler (with a film titled All Divided Selves, about the controversial Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing) and the splendidly named performance artist Spartacus Chetwynd. Before winning the Turner Prize, Price was best known as a member of 1980s indiepop band Talulah Gosh, though is by no means the only former member to have a notable post-band career.
posted by acb on Dec 4, 2012 - 14 comments

The Wrong Right

5-part series from Conservative Home about weaknesses in how the UK conservative movement thinks and operates. 1: Polling not punditry. 2: The working class has different concerns in 2012. 3: Conservatives need a new attitude to government. 4: Thatcher and Reagan didn't tame the state. 5: Why does the right treat spending cuts as light entertainment?
posted by TheophileEscargot on Nov 23, 2012 - 17 comments

social impact bonds

Are Social Impact Bonds a good way to invest in public services? "Imagine a contract where private investors are paid by the government if there's a decrease in homelessness or convicts re-offending. It's a an idea that's taking shape in the UK and some US states. And now the Canadian government is considering piloting social impact bonds. Critics say it's a way of governments shirking their responsibilities." CBC's "The Current" reports. [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 20, 2012 - 29 comments

How happy are we?

The UK Office of National Statistics is measuring and reporting on more than just money as a measure of national success The ONS has started a process of measuring and reporting on national wellbeing. They've also made some very pretty animations with the information
posted by Gilgongo on Nov 20, 2012 - 11 comments

You will become like us

Can Neil Gaiman restore the Cybermen to their original greatness? - Neil Gaiman's second episode of Doctor Who will feature the classic cyborg villains introduced by medical scientist Kit Pedler in The Tenth Planet
posted by Artw on Nov 8, 2012 - 115 comments

The one with the hitchhiker in the yellow coat

Hammer House of Horror was a 1980 British anthology television series produced by the eponymous film studio. It was followed by Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense and there were a couple of other notable, similar themed, series around at the time, Beasts and West Country Tales. They might now seem a little crude and simplistic, but they employed an interesting array of writers, directors and actors and the best can still raise a definite chill [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Oct 31, 2012 - 8 comments

"I close my eyes and dream about a sunny holiday ... "

Caro Emerald is a Dutch jazz singer. Her debut album "Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor" went sextuple-platinum in The Netherlands, and has the longest run at #1 on the Dutch charts. BBC Music reviews. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 31, 2012 - 16 comments

Language Communities of London as seen by Twitter

London's Twitter Languages. Twitter Languages of the World.
posted by Gordafarin on Oct 25, 2012 - 14 comments

Terror Tales

It was the last few weeks before I left 2000AD and I was looking forward to starting work on my next creation: Misty. I took the title from the film, Play Misty For Me and my plan was to use my 2000AD approach on a girls’ comic: big visuals and longer, more sophisticated stories with the emphasis on the supernatural and horror. Pat Mills on the creation of Misty, a comic full of "pacts with the devil, schoolgirl sacrifice, the ghosts of hanged girls, sinister cults, evil scientists experimenting on the innocent and terrifying parallel worlds where the Nazis won the Second World War." The Guardian's Jacqueline Rayner recalls Jinty, Tammy, Misty and the golden age of girls' comics.
posted by Artw on Oct 19, 2012 - 6 comments

Wet your whistle on these

What ho, dearest cousins in the Western Colonies. You appear to be increasingly using the vernacular of the mother country. Splendid! [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 17, 2012 - 180 comments

Gary McKinnon will not be extradited from the UK to the USA

British computer hacker Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the US, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced. [bbc]. She stated that "a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights." on grounds of his mental illness(es) and propensity for suicidal thoughts. On a broader level she has also indicated that a forum bar will be available in future extraditions to the USA, meaning a court will be able to consider whether it would be more appropriate for a trial to be held in the UK. [more inside]
posted by samworm on Oct 16, 2012 - 40 comments

You can't eat scenery

The governments of the United Kingdom and Scotland agree on a framework for the latter to vote on independence. Other reporting in the Telegraph, Guardian and the Scottish Sun. The referendum, for this nation of 5.25 million people and a unicorn as its national animal, will be held before the end of 2014. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 15, 2012 - 109 comments

From an axe to Auerbach

The story of British art From the earliest evocative stone structures at Skara Brae and Stonehenge to the disturbing 20th-century portraits by Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, the art inspired by the British isles tells a truly spectacular story. Through painting, sculpture, architecture and much more, immerse yourself in the best of critic Jonathan Jones's epic survey of the artworks that have made us who we are interactive, intro
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Oct 10, 2012 - 2 comments

Gategate?

Andrew Mitchell, Conservative Chief Whip, faces calls to resign after he reportedly said to police officers who refused to let him through the main gate of Downing Street: "Best you learn your fucking place. You don't run this fucking government. You're fucking plebs." [more inside]
posted by Jehan on Sep 24, 2012 - 103 comments

"You will depart immediately, before we set the dogs on you."

Dave Hartnett was surprised with an award this week for his services to tax avoidance. He was celebrating his retirement as head of the UK's tax and customs department, where he agreed "sweetheart" deals with Goldman Sachs and Vodafone, letting them off outstanding tax bills. Cue some pleasantly awkward confusion as the partygoers realise what is going on.
posted by creeky on Sep 24, 2012 - 58 comments

Politician apologizes, is autotuned, creates beauty

Nick Clegg is so, so sorry. (YT) During the last British general election, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was riding high on a wave of popularity (previously). [more inside]
posted by running order squabble fest on Sep 21, 2012 - 111 comments

Make good programmes

Armando Iannucci's Bafta lecture 2012 - In which the creator of The Thick Of It argues that the BBC should be more aggressive, fight back against critics in the press and goverment, be more like HBO than committee-driven American network TV, and that if as James Murdoch says the only reliable, durable guarantor of independence is profit then the only guarantor of profit is independance.
posted by Artw on Sep 12, 2012 - 41 comments

Gannet Jacuzzi

British wildlife photography awards 2012
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Sep 10, 2012 - 9 comments

A tale of (the wage bills of) three English sports

Information on cricket salaries in England is difficult to find, though the amounts are acknowledged to be low; many cricketers take on a second job during the off-season. One of the top flight teams, Durham, is the first county fined for narrowly exceeding the total playing staff salary cap for the year. As a cross-sport comparison, the top flight football (soccer) team wage bills for 2010-11, and the team salary caps for rugby.
posted by Wordshore on Sep 9, 2012 - 12 comments

From Vera to Amy

Next year, BBC Radio Two's series The People's Songs, will tell the history of modern Britain in 50 songs. They have just announced what ten of them will be. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Sep 5, 2012 - 52 comments

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