Archive for the ‘Rantings and Ravings’ Category

Evening Standard is sold to ex-KGB agent for £1

OK Londoners, scary-time. BBC news site has this story:

Russian ex-KGB agent Alexander Lebedev is to buy the London Evening Standard newspaper for the sum of £1.

The paper’s publisher – the Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) – said it had agreed to the sale of a majority interest in the paper to Mr Lebedev.

The billionaire businessman is believed to have made an offer for approximately a 76% share of the paper.

He has previously revealed that he used the paper to find out information when he was a young spy based in London.

The Evening Standard has vied with the Daily Mail for the “most odious rag in Britain” award for some time. The fact that it is out of step with so many Londoners’ views has left the good freebies (eg Metro) with a clear run. Personally, I think Metro is a far better paper that the Standard, in every way. And now the Standard has its very own Murdoch, in the shape of an ex-KGB Russian oligarch owner. Be afraid!

Full story on BBC news here.

Who’s the Anti-Social One?

You know what really bugs me? The assumption, on the part of public servants and services, that it’s OK for them to desecrate our public spaces with their paranoid, ugly security nonsense. Take a look at this:

This is in Trafalgar Square, pretty much the centre of London, the centre of tourist London, and that place should be the jewel in our public crown. But the powers-that-be are so concerned that someone might climb up the lamp post and, you know, do criminal stuff (what? throw petrol bombs? moon at the police?) that they cover it in “anti-climb paint” and then stick on an ugly, amateurish sign about the paint.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Take a look at the lamp post itself. It’s pretty, it’s well made, it’s either Victorian, or it’s a decent replica. And they stuck their ugly, paranoid little photocopied sign on it.

The final thing I’m going to rant about is that fact that, actually, this wasn’t a lamp post. It was, (of course!), a frigging CCTV camera post.

The days we live in!

Tube Map-o-rama

SPANK ACORN!

WOBBLY EMBRYO!!

WET MASH!!!

I was talking to some peeps last night, some of who hadn’t come across the famous (as I thought) London Anagram Tube map. It was a mini net sensation back in early 2006, before – believe it or not – it had to be taken down following threats from Transport for London’s lawyers. As if a humorous map of the tube is going to harm their public image!?

Whole sad story here (harms TFL’s image much more than some silly map)

Anyway, as we know, it’s impossible to get anything much taken down off the net by bully-boy tactics, and I found a version of the map after about 30 seconds googling web searching. Plus a load of other humorous and interesting variations on Harry Beck’s iconic and beautiful London Tube map.

Hopefully this post won’t call down dismal locust-like hordes of cold-hearted legal types.

Click here for Tube map fun!

FREE THE STREETS!

Short notice, but here’s something I got via Facebook….

CLUB NIGHT – FREE THE STREETS! – 13 November 2008

In the summer, the Manifesto Club launched a campaign against booze bans, standing up against the petty bureaucracy that sucks the life out of public spaces. A whole host of activities are either banned outright or only allowed with official permission. As well as booze bans, there are now no-photo zones, no-leafleting and no-demonstrating zones; CCTV cameras watch our every move and we are searched at the entrance of many public buildings. What is behind the creeping regulation of public space? Is the freedom from official regulation trivial in the face of terrorism and antisocial behaviour? Or should free citizens demand the right to regulate public spaces for ourselves?

Speakers:

Dolan Cummings is co-founder of the Manifesto Club; research and editorial director of the Institute of Ideas, where he edits the online review Culture Wars. He has written widely on the regulation of public space, including a Manifesto Club Thinkpiece, Smoking Policies: a civilised approach (PDF).

Steve Forrest is a photographer who is interested in developing a critical perspective on the way we respond to regulation in public space. He worked extensively in the Middle East, Africa and the UK, before joining the photography collective Insight Visual in 2001, where his clients include the the New York Times, Newsweek and Guardian Weekend. His recent project is Paranoid Britain.

Event: Free the streets! Against the antisocial regulation of public space
Date: Thursday 13 November
Venue: The Evangelist (Downstairs), 33 Blackfriars Lane, London EC4V 6EP (Map)
Time: Doors open 7pm; discussion begins 8pm.
Cost: Free to Manifesto Club Members; £5 non-members.

We hope to see you all there!

Suzy Dean
co-organiser

A Warning to bongo-drummers

Hackney man critically ill after catching Anthrax from bongo drums!

OK – that’s a bit of a silly way to put it, but someone is, sadly, very ill after inhaling anthrax spores from animal skins while making drums. Apparently it’s not unheard of. A quick google-around tells me that someone in Scotland died in 2006, and another drum-maker from Greenwich Village had the same problem a while back. Oh, the dangers of being a bohemian!

Well, I hope our Hackney drum-maker gets well soon, and that his goat skins remain ever anthrax free in future.

Real story on BBC news here.

Next time you’re at a party and someone gets the bongoes out – time to pop out into the garden for a bit of fresh air, I think…

*Cough..Cough..*

Tube driver this morning –

“The next station is trendy Acton Town.”

….ermmmm, Since when?

Thank goodness for the boys in blue (not)

Stoke Newington is CRAWLING with police this morning. You’ve never seen so many police. All over the frigging place.

“What are they doing?”, you ask. Busting a major crack ring? On the trail of a terrorist cell?

Nope.

Catching cyclists.

Yep – you heard me right. They have Stokey on lock-down so that they can bust people for riding down alleys without dismounting, running red lights, etc.

OK – bad cycling annoys me as much as the next person. I can’t stand the little toads that ride at speed down the pavement – I just shout at them: “are you too frightened to ride on the road?” And running a red light when there are pedestrians around is a no-no for me too.

But seriously – a police crackdown, utilising this many officers to catch a few mildly anti-social cyclists is just absurd. Is this what I pay them for?

A friend of mine was fined £30 by a copper the other day. The crime: going across the pavement with his bike in order to lock it to a railing. He freewheeled the bike, standing on the pedal, like you do. Result a £30 fine. Frigging ridiculous.

So – the question is: now that cycling has begun to really take off as a form of green, healthy transport for Londoners (post-Olympic effect too), who has ordered the police to crack down on cyclists in this absurd manner?

Hey police cadets – looking forward to a glorious career of hassling cyclists?

Oyster/Voyeur Cards

I’m digging this subversive little sticker I spotted on a wall in Upper St, Islington last night

Makes me want to go and look up the facts about the information that TFL gathers about my movements. That’s TFL plus any government/council busybody or their mates. And, no doubt, the police.

If you can’t make out the URL on the sticker, it’s:

http://www.neoexternalism.co.uk

Intriguing!


Drunk and sleepy on the Buses

london night bus

london night bus

So I got invited to a particularly posh awards to do in beautiful London town the other day. The usual free champagne, wine and beer flowed all night long and by 11 o’clock the night is going well (or so I thought) I decide to meet up with some friends around Liverpool street… and the next thing I know I am asleep on a night bus and it is 3am.

How did this happen, well quite obvious really, I got on and fell asleep.

Now most people who live in London will know that a London night can be particularly chilly at the best of times so the comfort and the warmth of a bus came as a huge relief and surprise when I first awoke from my slumber. The emptiness of the bus was also appealing to my inebriated self, so instead of getting off and hailing the nearest black cab and going home as any sober person would have done, I simply went back to my ZZZs.

Now buses do come to the end of their line eventually so when I was turfed off I can recall simply hoping on the next one that came along, oyster card in hand and finding a new corner to snooze in. Where the bus was going or where I picked it up from I do not recall or indeed do I care, but the warmth and cosiness of that seat once more led to me having a good hours snooze or so.

Soon after I was given orders by the driver to leave my seat with a depot fast approaching and once more a new bus was quickly located. Tactics began to be formed, as I headed back towards central London from where I think was the Finchely area.

I managed to time my journey on the final bus of the night as it arrived in Trafalgar Square at 5.30am and as the pigeons looked on in slight confusion and suspicion of this man still wearing a tuxedo from the night before I hopped on my first train back to my non moving home. Just in time for a few more hours sleep before jaunting back in to work as fresh as a daisy (that might be a slight fib).

So the next time you find yourself stranded with the final tube gone and no money for a cab, look for the nearest double-decker and get yourself the comfortable cheap alternative to a dodgy B&B.

This may shine a certain light on my person, as someone who A. enjoys a good hearty drink and B. doesn’t really care about what other people think.
Indeed I may easily offend or disgust you with the above revelations, but I say there are loads more people like me out there in the city and aren’t we the most interesting…I’ll let you decide that!

How not to sleep on the Tube

london_underground_logo.jpgTo the young partier crashed out on the Northern Line at 9 a.m.:

Dude: While I can respect the amount of partying it takes to sleep sprawled out on the northbound train from London Bridge whilst everyone is stepping over you and scowling, you’re not cool.

While your mouth is hanging open so wide and you’re snoring so loud I could probably drop a ₤1 coin and it would fall all the way to the bottom before you even noticed, you’re not cool.

While you could snore through the coming apocalypse as well as completely ignoring the irritated older businessman who is even now kicking you in the shin trying to wake you so you’re not blocking the aisle and generally effing up everyone else’s attempt to just get to the office – you’re just … so … not cool.

You probably shambled onto the train from some party near South Wimbledon, and promptly fell asleep because you’re also on the nod, and now you’re a total disgrace, and small kids are giggling at you as the old fellow kicks you once more and this blogger steps off the train making a mental note to write about your sorry ass.

Have a little pride. Tuck your feet closer and close your mouth if you need to sleep it off en route home. Just saying.

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