Friday, 14 December 2012

Roller Trio, Hello Skinny, Lexington, Pentonville Road, London music scene

"Dark, menacing, bass heavy - the new sound of UK jazz." I could see why BBC 6 Music's Giles Peterson described Roller Trio thus. 
   But, last night, in a small but ideally sized room above north London's Lexington pub on Pentonville Road, Leeds-based Roller Trio (tenor saxophonist James Mainwaring, guitarist Luke Wynter and drummer Luke Reddin-Williams) blended engaging melody, bravado anthemics and sensitive yet powerful harmonies.
  Only in their 20s, these confident and technically accomplished musicians treated their Lexington cluster to a session of real power and rare groove. Roller Trio's surging bass tones hummed into us through the Lex's floorboards.
   Keep an ear to the ground for Roller Trio, who first met at Leeds College of Music. They're well worth a look and a listen when they next add their unique lick to a slice of London's music scene that defies pigeonholes...except the one tagged 'new and exciting'.

Experimentalists Hello Skinny with bandleader Tom Skinner perfectly opened at the Lexington, also showing how trios armed with new music technology can really create new and exciting sounds.

Tip-off credit and thanks to Nad the 'Cave Man'.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, December 2012  


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Central London's booming Prime 'Resi' Market: New London Architecture breakfast seminar

Developers and property specialists defended central London's booming 'Prime' residential property market at this morning's lively New London Architecture breakfast gathering (Tuesday, 11 December).
   Apparently, it's good for London that average house prices in Kensington and Chelsea are now almost £1.1 million, compared to £189,000 in 1995. And, according to Jennet Siebrits, a CBRE property researcher, there's nothing wrong with 53 per cent of central London residents being people from overseas.
   Siebrits also paraded a statistic that 87 per cent of Prime central London homebuyers in Quarter 3 2012 paid for their homes in cash.
  Siebrits hinted at the inequality generated by a booming central London property market and the housing crisis facing parts of central and much of the rest of London. Only 15 miles apart, average house prices in Kensington and Chelsea are said to be fifteen times higher than in Barking and Dagenham in east London.
   But Prime 'central London' doesn't enjoy unqualified support. "Buoyant yet dysfunctional", was how London's residential market was described last week at an NLA housing conference by David Lunt, a senior housing planner with the Greater London Authority. 
Yes, 'Prime' generates vast wealth but some reckon strongly it perpetuates inequality across London.

For more on New London Architecture's excellent housing in London exhibition visit

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, December 2012

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

'Housing a Growing City': New London Architecture, Build Your Own House

Apparently over half of us in the UK would like to build our own home, according to a poll. But,sadly,finding an available and affordable piece of land in London is nigh impossible.
   But that mightn't stop Peabody housing association from exploring ways to work with potential self-builders to build much needed new homes in London.
   This was one of just several interesting asides to emerge from today's 'Housing a Growing City' breakfast seminar hosted by New London Architecture.
   More to follow...

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, December 2012

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Leveson, Free Press, Gandhi, London

Mohendas 'Mohatma' Gandhi, the great Indian leader, momentously visited London in 1931.
Somebody asked him: "What do you think of civilisation in Britain?"
   Gandhi replied: "I think it would be a very good idea."
I thought of Gandhi's response as I listened to Members of Parliament pompously striving to claim the moral high ground about preserving the UK's 'free press'. 
  Ruth, a character in Night and Day (Tom Stoppard, 1978), said: "I'm with you on the free press. It's the newspapers I can't stand."
    What would Gandhi have made of one man owning tens of newspaper titles when millions of people control none at all? 
  'What do you think of the free press in Britain?
- 'I think it would be a very good idea.'

MPs 'free press' pontifications were prompted by Lord Leveson's report on media ethics and practices published today (29 November). 

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, November 2012 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Media practices, Phone Hacking, Lord Leveson, NUJ, Press Complaints

Apparently, during Lord Leveson’s inquiry into media practices, culture and ethics – including ‘phone hacking’ - John Hendy QC, counsel for the National Union of Journalists, enjoyed a rare moment to quiz Rupert Murdoch, News International’s media mogul.
    Hendy asked Murdoch about testimony from a journalist working for News International newspapers who had experienced bullying.
   Murdoch replied: “Why didn’t she resign?”
   Lord Leveson himself had to point out: “I think the problem with that might be that she needs a job.”

Conscience clause
Leveson publishes his findings in London tomorrow (Thursday, 29 November). But I think it’s worth recording the NUJ’s position on a number of issues affecting the UK media and its relationship with the public, police and politicians.
   One of the most interesting calls supported by NUJ members is for a ‘conscience clause’ to safeguard journalists who object to being made to act unethically in the pursuit of a story.
   Proposals from Lords Black and Hunt apparently rule out a conscience clause.

Workplace chapel
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, also told NUJ members today (Wednesday, 28 November): “It is significant that the unfolding scandal at News International happened in a workplace where the NUJ has been effectively blocked by Rupert Murdoch, where journalists working across the titles have been denied the collective representation of an independent trade union for a generation.”
   Hence, the NUJ reminded Lord Leveson that an NUJ workplace chapel is not simply a vehicle for putting together pay claims and campaigning for better terms and conditions but is also the locus where journalists can raise concern about ethics, staff levels, bullying and editorial pressure.

NUJ members voted to scrap and replaced the current Press Complaints Commission. Lords Black and Hunt also apparently rule out the working involvement of active journalists in a PCC Mark II.
   Their Lordships apparently also suggested this new body should determine who gets a press card. “A system that could withdraw an individual journalists’ press card – and livelihood – would transfer accountability from the publisher to the journalist,” says Stanistreet.
“This would be akin to the licensing of journalists.”

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, November 2012

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hangman, National Lottery, Animated Games, Repeated and Felt Cheated a kid, I used to get really animated playing this macabre word game.
   So I got animated again tonight when I bought my  midweek Lotto ticket online from the National Lottery website. Instantly, a logo for an 'Instant Win' game titled Hangman caught my eye.
   A sucker for a bit of Hangman, I spent £1 of the £10 minimum I'm required to add to my online National Lottery account and played one game. Sure enough, the Hangman's gallows appeared.
   I clicked on little blank word tiles hoping to match them to the letters in words like 'Empathic', 'Sailing', 'Ballet' and 'Tap'. I got close but, alas, no cigar.
   Alack, there are no 'O's or 'Q's in 'Ballet' and 'Tap'. Sadly, my little animated on-screen stick person got strung up. No big money prize for me.

Second leg
Undaunted, I punted another quid for a second game. I clicked and revealed letters like 'E', 'S', 'L', 'I', 'A'. Strangely, I'd also revealed these letters in my first game.
   Puzzled, I then realised the same words were also on offer; 'Empathic', 'Sailing', 'Ballet' and 'Tap'. A fifth word, I can't recall.
   So, even though I clicked on different word tiles from game one, I knew 'O' and 'Q' would turn up. They did.
   I lost again and felt a little cheated by a game exactly repeated. I also felt a lot stupid at forking out another £1. 
  But I was miffed too. After all, the National Lottery is supposed to be a game of random chance, isn't it? Literally, a lottery?

Instant animated reply
At eight o'clock tonight I received an almost instant reply from Siobhan Murtagh at the National Lottery Customer Care Team. I'd  emailed Camelot, the company that runs the UK's national lottery, with an inquisitive complaint a couple of hours earlier.
   Siobhan Murtagh of the NLCCT, stated: "All Instant Win Games are pre-determined as stated in the Interactive Account Terms and Conditions. I understand that the game animation is there to increase your enjoyment, but this in no way affects the final outcome of the game. 
   "There are only a limited number of winning and losing scenarios for each Instant Win Game in terms of animation. With multiple people playing the same game at the same time, our systems are unaware of which animation you received on your previous purchase. 
   "We do not keep a track of all the games you have played to ensure you do not get a repeated animation, as this would not make the selection truly random."

Interactive Wallet
Siobhan also advised, "If you do not wish to load a minimum of £10 into your interactive wallet, you may want to consider setting up a Direct Debit".
   Sorry, Camelot and the National Lottery, after my Hangman experience, I no longer want you to interact with my wallet. 
  I won't be adding any more 'minimum tenners' to my account.* 
You can go hang.

As for Hangman, I'll go back to playing for free.
Y'know, the old fashioned way.
Using  p..... and p...r.

* The minimum National Lottery online load up rose from £5 to £10 with effect from 17 September.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, November 2012.



Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Louis B. Susman, United States Ambassador to UK, Ford, Dagenham, President Obama

The office of United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James's used to be a very powerful post. Even Hollywood great Gregory Peck immortalised the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom in The Omen (R.Donner,1976).
   Devilish Satan chose to impregnate the wife of the aghast American Ambassador with Damien, the Antichrist spawn. Poor old Peck's Ambassador truly suffered - though, of course, not quite as much as his wife.
   You Have Been Warned, none of this tasteless yet entertaining cult horror movie nonsense filled my head tonight (Tuesday, 11 November). I scuttled along to the Telegraph Group's swish Victoria HQ along with 130 London Press Club guests. We listened to the current US Ambassador, Louis B.Susman, generously inform and surprisingly entertain us about the meaning of President Obama's re-election last week.
   I had sat down resolved to later stand up and ask Ambassador Susman (above) how he felt when a proud American corporation, Ford, announced in October it intended to permanently cut Transit van production, plant and 1,400 jobs at Southampton and at Dagenham in east London.
   I wanted some measure of Ambassador Susman's 'sway' over corporate America. Did Ford executives even courteously consult the Ambassador before they took a decision that will seriously harm the lives of many British working people and their families?
   I wasn't sure how Ambassador Susman might react. Married with two children and three grandchildren, Susman is no stranger to the cut and thrust of corporate USA. A former banker and corporate mergers and acquisitions lawyer, his boardroom CV includes Citigroup and Salomon Brothers.
   Unfortunately, sorry, but I'm not at liberty to record for you - dear reader - Ambassador Susman's possibly thoughtful and direct response to any question I may have asked. You see, the LPC ran the Q&A session under 'Chatham House rules' - a very British trait designed to encourage frank and open talk but effectively taking responses off-the-record.
   Ambassador Susman - on the record -  did say the Democrat party machine tipped the balance. "Party officials even handed out pizzas to people standing in line to vote," said Susman. 
   The Ambassador said Obama's victory was "a strong repudiation of the policies of the right wing of the Republican Party",  a party whose members will now be engulfed in "a vicious struggle" to determine its future direction.
   I can also report Susman said a second-term President Obama, free from the need for re-election, will act more decisively as he no longer needs to satisfy "powerful vested interests". The Ambassador predicted an "unshackled President Obama" will set up an investment bank to specifically fund new infrastructure.
Nevertheless, what I may have heard from the Ambassador about what I might've specifically asked him has resolved me to return soon to  the matter of Ford and Dagenham/ the impact of these lost London and Southampton jobs, many exported to Turkey, is a real life horror for these folk and their families.

With thanks to Kate O'Reilly and LPC colleagues.

Paul Coleman, London, November 2012

Sunday, 4 November 2012

London Football: Queens Park Rangers 1 Reading 1, Premier League

In the Loftus Road battle of clubs who traditionally wear blue and white hoops, Reading showed unusually disciplined defence against an instinctively attacking Queens Park Rangers, writes Paul Coleman.
  Clad in all-yellow, Leigertwood and Tabb, an influential and composed midfield duo, protected Reading's back four, restricting Rangers to mostly long-range, open play efforts. 
   Powerful shots from Rangers' gifted Taarabt and lacklustre Cissé lacked direction. On-target shots lacked power.
  Gorkss' snap-shot 17th minute goal typified Reading outfighting Rangers to loose balls and headers - and capitalised on loose marking by Rangers' defenders. 
   With both teams unchanged, the formulaic football continued in the second period - although Rangers' more instinctive attacks prompted by Taarabt and Hoilett menaced Reading with increased frequency.
   Hitherto poor, Cissé surprisingly controlled and converted Bosingwa's flat and fast cross for a well-taken Rangers' equaliser. The goal continued Reading's sad trait of conceding at least one goal every game for the season.
   Although out of the blue, Cissé's goal put a spring in Rangers' step, especially Taarabt. Reading goalkeeper McCarthy denied Taarabt an almost certain clincher with a fine save after 83 minutes.
   In a nervy finale, both teams huffed and puffed vainly for a vital winner.
  Reading fans were pleased with their team's defensive discipline. Worryingly, Rangers created few clear open-play chances against a Reading team who had scored five but conceded seven in their last match against Arsenal.
Troubling for both Rangers and Reading supporters, this 1-1 stalemate meant both teams still had not won a Premiership game in the 2012/13 season. A long, hard campaign loomed for both clubs.

Full-time: Queens Park Rangers 1 Reading 1 (Half-time: 0-1).
Man of the Match: McCarthy (Reading).

Paul Coleman, London, November 2012

Saturday, 20 October 2012

A Future That Works - TUC March and Rally Central London and Hyde Park, Ed Miliband, General Strike call

'I'm So Angry I Made This Sign', chirps one protester's placard. A Trade Union Congress steward, standing opposite the Institute of Director's sumptuous Pall Mall retreat, reads Karl Marx's Capital.
  Walking sticks and wheelchairs are in force as the National Pensioners Convention gathers beside Caviar House, next to the Ritz hotel on Piccadilly. The Ritz windows are firmly shuttered. 
  It's Saturday, 20 October 2012 and it's clear this central London march and rally by working people isn't going to be as massive as the last show of strength in March 2011 when slogans and paint splattered the Ritz facade.
   But an estimated 150,000 people marching from the Embankment to a Hyde Park rally, billed by the TUC as A Future That Works, is still an impressive mobilisation against the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government's austerity economics and cuts to jobs and public services.

General strike call
Thousands of marchers in a huge column wield colourful and inventively funny banners and placards. Many only reach Hyde Park as the rally speeches end. 
   They miss hearing union leader after union leader pressuring Labour Party leader Ed Miliband to endorse their call for a general strike against the coalition government's austerity programme.
   Miliband (above), a member of the Unite and USDAW unions, and MP for Doncaster North, accuses the government of "dividing our they cut taxes for millionnaires and raise taxes for ordinary families.They leave young people out of work whilst the bonuses and the banks carry on."

What a Miliband-led government would do?
Miliband attacks Prime Minister David Cameron for contriving "a sink or swim society". A Labour government would tax bankers bonuses, Miliband  pledges. Labour would build "100,000 new homes" and repeal the Coalition's law that allows the National Health Service to be privatised. 
  Much of Miliband's denigration of the government goes down well with the growing Hyde Park crowd. But most silently greet and a few boo Miliband's admission that a future  "One Nation" Labour government would still have to take "tough choices" and also make cuts.

'Who Do They Think They Are'?
But Miliband's 'jam tomorrow' promise isn't going to sway union leaders and activists - particularly as the next general election remains three years away. The general strike issue is likely to come up again soon after the march.
  Activist and writer Owen Jones had tweeted earlier that morning,"This is the time for the plebs", a reference to Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell who resigned this week over allegations he had called police 'plebs' as they guarded the Prime Minister's Downing Street home.
   But perhaps one of the most surprising judgements on Cameron and the coalition arises well away from the throbbing drumbeats on central London streets. Saturday's lead story front page headline on the right-wing Daily Mail newspaper screams 'Who Do They Think They Are?'    The story refers to Mitchell's 'pleb' comment but also tells a damming tale about the government's 'axe man', Chancellor George Osborne. 
  The paper reports that Osborne travelled first class on a train.
A Cabinet Minister travels first what's the story there then?
Apparently, Osborne could only show the ticket inspector a standard class ticket. Pleb.

Paul Coleman, London, October 2012.

Words & Photos Copyright Paul Coleman 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Bull Finch in the Heritage China Shop - Protecting Views Across the Thames: a New London Architecture 'punch up'

"The city that stops building dies," rages Paul Finch.
An architecture and urban design guru, Finch warns a cluster of architects, developers and planners that London risks becoming a "dead zone" - provocatively adding, "just like central Paris". 
  Finch says heritage lobbyists like UNESCO and English Heritage seem hellbent on delaying and preventing new towers rising up on either side of the River Thames.
   Finch fears these "mimsy" lobbyists will festoon London with "a creeping stasis" that could undermine London's reputation as a dynamic, changing city.
   Jabbed repeatedly by Finch, the heritage specialists try to counter. They say they are preserving ordained 'strategic views' of heritage sites like St Paul's Cathedral as seen from Primrose Hill, and the Thames at Waterloo as glimpsed from Parliament Square. They restate their "balanced approach" - to promote quality buildings that preserve vistas of historic buildings such as the Tower of London.
  Yet it's Finch's lively and, at times, compelling rhetoric that draws more applause and laughs.
  Amidst the guffaws, I couldn't help wondering what would happen if ordinary Londoners could visit the Shard, Gherkin, Tower 42 et al and enjoy the views of the city these towers offer. Maybe then the heritage crew might find it less easy to try and thwart these buildings going up in the first place. 
  Nevertheless, New London Architecture's Peter Murray breezily refereed a good-natured bout of verbal fisticuffs that fired up  breakfast hearts and minds.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, September 2012

Top Photo: St Paul's and City of London skyline from Waterloo Bridge north end showing 'Walkie Talkie' under construction (far right).

Words & Photos Copyright, Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2012

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Marchmont Street, London WC1: Street Party 2012

I treasure some happy memories of working for a community organisation on Marchmont Street in the late 1980s. Today’s Marchmont Street Party provided me with some fresh happy reflections.
  Smiling people and lovely September sunshine filled the street that runs north-south close to Russell Square and the Brunswick Centre. Barred traffic gave way to a variety of street entertainment that included Kings Cross Brunswick Youth’s brand of R‘n’B and Coco Express’ Salsa and Merengue. Zany, fire-juggling and escapology came from Juggling John and Jonathan the Jester.

Face-painted children skipped between fun fair rides and sideshows. Cafés, restaurants and the local pub provided street food and drink.
   Traders, community groups and charities with their stalls tempted party-goers with goods and services ranging from second-hand books to beauty treatments, from children’s toys to give-away plants in window-boxes.
  The Marchmont Community Garden, one-year-old and blooming lovely, hosted Professor Gary Wilson’s colourful and noisy Punch & Judy for bemused younger children and nostalgic parents.

The 2012 party was organised by the Marchmont Association and generously supported by sponsors such as Gino Hairdressing, Judd Books, Fork deli and by local hotels.
  Everyone involved deserves congratulation. Marchmont Street is definitely one of London’s brightest and friendliest streets. Mustn’t forget also, Marchmont Street offers the finest homemade cakes in London.

Paul Coleman, London, September 2012.

Words and photos: Copyright Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2012

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Olympic Marathon Leadenhall Market, 2012 Olympic Games London

A market has existed on the site of London's Leadenhall Market since Roman times. Today, something even older - and which may never return - ran through the market's current grand Victorian structure and over its smoothed cobbles - the Men's Olympic Marathon, the final event of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Photo: Copyright London Intelligence 2012

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, August 2012.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Japan, Earthquake, Tsunami, UK east coast, Buckingham Palace perspective

These images of Japan's earthquake and tsunami of March 11 last year claim to offer an interesting UK and London perspective. 
 The images form part of an outdoor Japanese photo exhibition currently at London's Broadgate Circle.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, August 2012

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Hail the Nadeshiko: France 1 Japan 2: Women's 2012 Olympic Football Semi-Final, Wembley Stadium

Japan's women footballers are called 'the Nadeshiko' after the delicate mountain flower. But the Japanese lady in the seat next to me proved no shrinking violet, writes Paul Coleman
 She'd shriek - making my eardrums wince - whenever a Nadeshiko hared towards the French goal. Later, like a child hiding behind a door as a scary film plays on TV, she'd half-cover her eyes with her Hinomaru (Rising Sun) fan each time the frantic French swarmed Japan's battle-scarred penalty area. 
 In battle terms, this pulsed with a second-half siege, punctuated by pulsating goalmouth action, roared on by over 61,000 souls at Wembley Stadium.
 With just 12 minutes left on the clock, France's Elise Bussaglia wished  Wembley's lush turf would open and swallow her. Shocked and appalled, she'd just stroked her penalty kick wide of the post (below). Unbelievably, the Nadeshiko still clung precariously to their slender 2-1 advantage.
The Nadeshiko in their blue shirts proved obdurate and highly disciplined. Look at the way they tightly marked the white-shirted French at corners (below). These braves hurled their bodies in the way of 27 dangerous French netbound shots and headers. And, when they were finally beaten, their previously nervous kitten-like goalkeeper, Miho Fukumoto, dived low to her left to miraculously prevent a French equaliser with her fingertips.
Four minutes of fever pitch added time ended when the Mexican referee blew the final whistle. Never has a referee borne such a beautiful name; Quetzalli Alvarado.
 France's exhausted musketeers - including the heartbroken Bussaglia - collapsed and sobbed tears of despair into the Wembley turf as a huddle of relieved Nadeshiko  cavorted - fittingly - in their own penalty area. The Japanese lady beside me celebrated with a smile wider than Wembley's famous arch (top).
 And 61,000 of us left England's majestic national stadium with alternate chants of 'Nippon Nippon' and 'Allez Les Bleus' ringing in our ears.
 Both Japan and France's footballers did themselves, their countries and the sport of women's football very proud indeed.
 My ears have since recovered but Bussaglia will sadly always suffer recall of her tragic penalty miss. 
Good luck to the Nadeshiko in Thursday's Olympic Gold Medal final against the USA.

 Photos: Copyright Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2012

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2012

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Marianne Vos gold medal winner, women's 140km cycling road race, London 2012 Olympic Games

Clouds rolled over London’s 2012 Olympic Games. Thunder rumbled. Rain lashed. But drenched thousands still enthusiastically cheered the women cyclists as they dramatically finished their 140km (87 mile) road race near Buckingham Palace (Day 2, July 29), writes Paul Coleman.
 “I’ve stood here for four hours,” said Freda. “And now it’s all worth it.”
Freda and Johann, both from Amsterdam, began celebrating. They’d just seen their Dutch darling, Marianne Vos, zip past them on Constitution Hill’s purple road surface (above).

Johann and Freda had arrived two hours before the race’s midday start. Totally equipped, their inventory included a tablet complete with external antenna, folding stools, umbrellas, cagoules and sun hats – naturally, all Dutch orange – along with sandwiches, biscuits, fruits, bottled water and mints.
 The trio and the following pack raced by. Freda and Johann huddled over their tablet to watch live coverage of Vos (below, third right) triumphing in her gripping three-way sprint to the finish on the Mall.
  Britain’s Elizabeth Armitstead nabbed the silver – the host nation’s first 2012 medal – ahead of Olga Zabelinskaya, Russia’s bronze medallist. 
 Vos is a special athlete but all 36 cyclists deserved their roadside acclaim. They’d raced phenomenally through London’s city streets and Surrey’s country lanes, enduring driving rain and greasy roads. 
The 2012 crowd had done their bit too. 
“Marianne is wonderful,” said an elated Freda. “We’re off to the sailing next.”

Words and Photos: © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2012.

London 2012 Olympic Games: Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle, 1908 and 1948, Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena

London’s £9.3 billion 2012 Olympic Games opened on Friday (July 27) with a £22 million opening ceremony, writes Paul Coleman.
 Director Danny Boyle’s ceremony - an eclectic dash through Britain’s social history - somehow managed to cram in references to the Industrial Revolution, the Suffragettes, two World Wars, and the National Health Service. But Britain’s central 250-year role in the African slave trade was curiously overlooked.
 Boyle’s creation featured James Bond and the Queen herself, the Beatles, Sex Pistols, Muhammad Ali, Mister Bean and Harry Potter.
 Overall, the residual impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony might be likened to sex; sporadically exciting yet basically ridiculous.
 My favourite bit though? Former England football captain David Beckham’s cheeky smile as he delivered the flaming Olympic torch to the Olympic Stadium at Stratford.
 'Becks’ piloted a glamorous, rainbow-lit speedboat along the Thames, skimming under Tower Bridge and cruising along the mile-and-half-long Limehouse Cut - one of London’s oldest and most forgotten canals –  grinning all the way and serenaded by fireworks!  
 Hallucinatory stuff. 

Photos: London staged the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948.  The old Wembley, known then as the Empire Stadium, hosted the 1948 opening and closing ceremonies and the track and field events. Commemorative 1948 tablets (top) remain displayed at the new Wembley Stadium (below) that hosts nine Olympic 2012 football matches. 

The neighbouring Wembley Arena (below) hosts badminton and rhythmic gymnastics for 2012. In 1948, as the Empire Pool, it staged swimming, diving, water polo, and boxing.

Words and Photos: © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2012.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Tottenham, Seven Sisters, Wards Corner, Grainger update

A number of you have asked me what's happening at Wards Corner in Tottenham (see previous posts). 
 Last night's public meeting in Tottenham (26 July) took the saga further. So, for an update, visit:

Thanks. Enjoy the Olympics.

Paul Coleman, London, July 2012

Monday, 16 July 2012

Monday morning's AGENDA: London, the Doughnut, the Jam and 'Britzerland'

Every Monday morning, I was greeted at the start of my commute by a scratch of evergreen graffiti on the railway station platform. 
'Work > Bed <', it said.
 I'd then board a ram packed train bound for what is now increasingly called 'the Doughnut', 'the Jam' and 'Britzerland'.
 'The Doughnut' means London's core area. Only the better off can afford to live in 'The Jam'. Property analysts says the wealthy are  'doughnutting' central London and other areas into 'Britzerland' - a Swiss-styled haven but one where profits boom from property. 
 'Doughnutting' also entails squeezing people on average and low incomes out of central London.

Market failure or success?
In Camden, for instance, some 14,000 people, including many working long hours for low pay, could be hit by the government's aim to cut Council Tax Benefit in  the central London borough by £2.7 million. If claimants lose their entitlement, they could face unaffordable Council Tax bills.
 "People will find it too expensive to live in Camden," says Theo Blackwell, Camden's finance chief. "It's down to the failure of the market. There are extreme rents in Camden."
 Government supporters say benefits reform is overdue. Non-recipients feel benefit payments are unfair. 
 But, if London's 'prime property market' squeezes out poorer people, it successfully entices the world's wealthy. 

Different planet
A mile or so from Camden's southern border, a spectacular laser show last week helped the Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jabor Al Thani and the Duke of York - Prince Andrew - to officially open the Shard, currently western Europe's tallest inhabited building complete with £10m penthouses.
 Estates Gazette editor Damian Wild says: "It was as spectacular as it was out of step with the diminished times in which we live. But that's the point: Britzerland is on a different planet right now."
 Property market analyst Mike Prew adds his take on 'Britzerland'. "Although geographically it is London, economically it behaves more like Switzerland with its safe haven status," says Prew.

Safe, perhaps, for France's wealthy fleeing higher taxes imposed by France's new centre-left government. Apparently, London is now France's third largest city. Safe, too, for wealthy Greek, Uzbek, Chinese, Indian and Brazilian exiles to take chunky punts on prime London real estate.
 Pre-'prime', oil rich Saudis, City bankers and Russian oligarchs all bought slices of London's real estate. Working Londoners on average and low incomes huddled into lower value homes. But, at least London's property market in the 1970s, 80s and 90s provided these homes in inner London and outer suburban areas, albeit at rising prices.
 But London's 2012 prime property boom now stands accused of forcing many Londoners into exile from their city. Will council estates and lower value private housing gradually be land-grabbed, land-banked, demolished and redeveloped?
 Regeneration 'Opportunity Areas' abound across London now. But for whom will opportunity knock?
 It's too early to say. Journalism might reveal more. But Britzerland Jam has certainly spread itself across the 'Agenda'.

'Agenda' will appear on Monday mornings.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2012

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Inflation hits London's streets; inflated eccentricity, that is...

"Eh? Who us? Oh, we're architecture students," said the young man sat with two young women in the inflatable on New Oxford Street in London's West End. 
 "It's a project to make more creative use of our public spaces," said the young woman wielding the makeshift oar.

Photos: Copyright, Paul Coleman, 2012

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2012

Friday, 13 July 2012

TRACK MOUSE: District Line new trains, Croydon Trams, Victoria-London Bridge, TfL seeks control of West Anglia and Southeastern

Bright, new, ‘walk-through’ S-Stock tube trains, increasingly in use on the Metropolitan Line, will be running on the District Line next year, reports TRACK MOUSE.
  Also, six new five-car Stadler Variobahn trams entered have entered service on London Tramlink in south London, complete with ‘Love Croydon’ livery.
  Train passengers who use South London Line services between Victoria and London Bridge will switch to new East London Line trains from this December. Transport for London say trains will run every 15 minutes calling at Wandsworth Road, Clapham High Street, Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Queens Road Peckham, Surrey Quays (passing Millwall Football Club), and then all ELL stations to Highbury and Islington. Some 50 new drivers and other staff have been hired as the culmination of a £75 million project to run the services which will mark the completions of London’s ‘orbital’ overground rail network. Funding came from central government, TfL and Network Rail. (Above photo shows ELL from train cab).
  ELL expansion is part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s ‘masterplan’ for TfL to take control of London’s privately run inner-suburban commuter train services.
The Mayor wants to take control of West Anglia services from Enfield Town, Cheshunt and Chingford, and Southeastern’s network that includes stations such as Herne Hill, Bexleyheath and Catford and north London stations such as Stamford Hill and Highams Park.

TRACK MOUSE, reporting from Limemouse Station, will scurry back soon with more London rail news...

Top Photo: Copyright Paul Coleman, 2010

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2012

Friday, 6 July 2012

Electric 'Dream' Cars in London? A Twizy quartet on Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury

Are 3-pin plug electric cars, like this cheeky quartet snapped in Bloomsbury this afternoon, going to rule London's roads? 
 The guy from the French car manufacturer told me these 'Twizys', assembled in Spain, run for 60 miles before they need "just a three-hour charge". 
 The basic, door-less model, without alloys, sells from £6,700. You pay more for doors, plastic windows and alloys. But there's no road tax and no congestion charge. 
 "I've driven one on a motorway within the London area," our man said on Great Russell Street. "But they're definitely designed more for the city centre."
Pollution-free revolutionary transport, or a cute gimmick? We'll see.

Photos: Copyright Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2012. (Click on image to enlarge).

Paul Coleman, London, July 2012

Thursday, 28 June 2012

A sad end for missing Londoner Patrick Connelly

A major public and police search for Patrick Connelly, aged 83, a south Londoner who went missing for two weeks, ended sadly when his body was found in Peckham Rye Park on the morning of 20 June. 
 His family said in a statement: "Although it is a very sad ending for us, he has been found and we can lay him to rest.
 "As a family, we all want you to know how very grateful we are for the massive support you all gave to us during the last 2 weeks. 
 "We are amazed at the kindness of so many people who either didn't know Dad or us, but were still willing to help in finding him.
 "Good to know that when all we often hear is bad news, that kindness and generosity still remains in people.
 "Thank you once again xx"

Paul Coleman, London, June 2012

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tottenham, Wards Corner, Seven Sisters, 'Regeneration'

Hundreds of new jobs, homes, shops and millions of pounds of new investment were promised for Tottenham in north London early today (Tuesday, 26 June)
 David Walters of developers Grainger said plans to demolish and redevelop Wards Corner, a landmark building at Seven Sisters, would regenerate the South Tottenham neighbourhood. "We have the opportunity to develop real regeneration for Tottenham," said Walters.
 Walters and colleagues persuaded councillors on Haringey's planning committee to vote 5-4 in favour of  a Grainger plan to build  196 new homes and shops at Wards Corner.  The vote, taken at 12.45am this morning after a five-hour meeting, narrowly accepted a recommendation from council officers to approve Grainger's plan. 
 The decision - the latest twist in a long-running saga - offers Grainger and Haringey hope that their development agreement can change Seven Sisters. Signed in 2007, the agreement was bitterly opposed by residents and Latin American, African, Caribbean and Asian market traders. Alternative plans by the Wards Corner Community Coalition had failed to secure formal Council support.
 Malti Patel, whose family has lived at Wards Corner and run their newsagents downstairs for over 27 years, said angrily: "I will have nothing left if Grainger takes away my home and business."
 Walters said Grainger would do everything possible to help residents, businesses and market traders who might want to temporarily relocate during demolition and return after construction. 
 None of Grainger's proposed new homes will be affordable or social housing. 
Wards Corner sits just south of homes and businesses in Tottenham badly hit by riots last August.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2012

For more details, link to Regeneration at

Friday, 22 June 2012

Reinventing Magazines: Print and Online magazines, Guardian, Alan Rutter, Condé Nast

“The best thing about the web is that anyone can publish anything. And the worst thing about the web is that anyone can publish anything." 
 Alan Rutter, speaking at the Guardian newspaper’s King’s Place HQ (Thursday, 21 June), explained magazine publishers felt compelled to publish iPad magazine editions as the tablet device looked similar in size and shape to a printed mag! “Not the best way to judge a new piece of technology,” said Rutter of Condé Nast publishers. 
 “I thought the iPad was a toy but then my wife started using an iPad for social networking and consuming content," said Rutter. "It’s not like a laptop, it doesn’t feel like work.” 
 In the United States, the iPad is predicted to become a ubiquitous device by 2014. Currently, UK usage lags behind.
 “Tablet devices need to become boring before the content becomes interesting,” added Rutter. UK users still say, 'I can’t do much with my iPad but doesn't it look great!'
 Magazine publishers with tablet editions are beginning to see UK readers opt for tablet editions. Publishers hope tablet devices can add a vital ten per cent to their audited circulations.
 But an intensive Reinventing Magazines event hosted by the bright and  breezy folk at the Guardian ended on a consensual note; don't fret, printed magazines will survive the multiple online platform onslaught. Websites, tablets, smartphones, email newsletters, blogs and apps won't evaporate printed content.
 Why? Well, readers like to immerse themselves in well-designed printed magazines laced with specially commissioned and professionally edited content. They like to curate their mags and stick them in issue order on their shelves.
And, as as one audience member pointed out, an online magazine doesn't smell as sweet as a freshly printed magazine!

Alan Rutter spoke at Reinventing Magazines, a Guardian masterclass on Thursday, 21 June.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

Granary Square, The Granary Building, London N1C: All change at King's Cross

The more modern art I see, the less I understand; much like life itself. But creative art is a crunch reason why London enjoys a new public square. 
  Granary Square in King’s Cross comes with its own fountain powered by 1,080 water jets. It's great fun. Understood, no problem.
  The rescue and careful renovation of the huge Grade II-listed Granary Building. typifies how London can change for the better, the many and not just for the usual few. The huge old Victorian grain depository is now a new home for 5,000 creative students and staff at the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design.
  The Granary Building refreshingly bucks a current London tendency to turn Victorian warehouses and railway stations into prohibitively expensive penthouse flats and luxury hotels.
  Wander around King’s Cross and you’ll see 67 acres of one of London’s once most maligned areas undergoing enormous change. The King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership – the development body – is refurbishing 19 historic buildings and structures, including the landmark, listed Gasholders.
  The Partnership also promises “over 40% of this development will be public realm”. Let’s hope enjoyment of one of the city’s newest postcode areas – London N1C – isn't  spoilt by twitchy and tetchy security guards and omnipresent CCTV. 
  So, you’ve already marvelled at the fabulous marriage of conservation and modern architecture at King’s Cross station's Western Concourse. Well, whilst waiting for your train, walk five minutes along King’s Boulevard and gander at Granary Square.
Venture inside the Granary Building too. 
Grain for the brain.
Fun for the heart too.

Photos: Copyright Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, 2012.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2012