Tag Archives | London

Reliving The South African Struggle In London

London School of Economics Coat of ArmsLondon: Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again” years ago, and its core truth keeps popping up in my life even as I tend to retrace some of my life journeys, in an endless walk down memory lane.

I am back in London, cold and wet as I remember it, to attend an event honoring those of us who went to South Africa on underground missions at my mid 1960’s alma mater, The London School of Economics and Political Science. I was on political side of he College’s split personality back in 1966-68.

This event marked my real “major” in what the Rolling Stones called “street fighting years:“ imagining world revolution.

Our group of solidarity stalwarts is now called “The London Recruits.” There is now a book out from Merlin Press telling our story in the words of many participants, including myself.

Yes, I was an activist in those pre-journalism years, blamed by some in the then Fleet Street press for sparking the LSE’s student “troubles” that soon morphed into an occupation and dramatic student protest.… Read the rest

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English Atheists Go To Church

Photo: Fin Fahey (CC)

Hey London atheists, did you go to church today? The UK’s first atheist church is now holding services in Islington reports the Islington Gazette:

Stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans will bring together a godless congregation in the Nave in St Paul’s Road, Canonbury for services – with wedding ceremonies and funerals for non-believers even on the cards.

News of the church, which will meet on the first Sunday of every month starting with a service on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6, comes after the census results revealed last week that nearly one in three residents are atheists.

Mr Jones and Ms Evans, a musical improv comedian who had a BBC Radio 4 show called Showstopper, came up with the idea for The Sunday Assembly after agreeing they liked many aspects of religion but didn’t believe in a god.

“We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement,” said Mr Jones, who recently became the first person to sell out the Sydney Opera House by personally selling all tickets by hand.

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Bombing London With Poetry

This past June, the Chilean arts group Los Casagrande dropped more than 100,000 poems, printed on scraps of paper, from a helicopter above central London in a performance titled the Bombing of Poems. They have done the same in Warsaw, Berlin, and Santiago -- all cities which have been bombed during wartime. Local government approved of the Bombing of Poems as a jubilant spectacle anticipating the pomp of the Olympic festivities to come, but the stunt's meaning may be more ambiguous. Was the poetry drop an emergency measure in an era in which funding the arts has been deemed no longer possible, and the metropolis is dominated by finance? Is it a commentary on the blanketing of the city with propaganda?
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Ninjas Attack Talkers & Texters In Movie Theater

Somehow I don’t think this concept is going to play well in Colorado, but apparently in London it’s acceptable. Via SlashFilm:

The Prince Charles Cinema is said to be employing volunteer “ninjas” to regulate good behavior among the audience. The term “ninja” is being used loosely here — they’re really more like glorified ushers in black skintight bodysuits — but whatever you want to call them, it’s certainly an interesting way to keep the peace. More afer the jump.

The so-called ninjas are ordinary cinephiles who agree to “guard” screenings in exchange for free admission. When they spot a patron talking, texting, throwing popcorn, kicking seats, or otherwise engaging in rude behavior, they swoop down to give the jerk in question a talking-to. One of the program’s recent targets, moviegoer Abdul Stagg, recounted his experience:

I normally hate noisy people in cinemas, but I got a call from my friend just as the movie started and thought I could get away with taking it.

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Mole Man’s Lair In London Sold For £1.12 Million

It has popularly been attributed to insanity, but building a subterranean network of tunnels underneath the middle of London is quite an achievement. No word on whether the new owner of ‘Mole Man’ William Lyttle’s house will be able to access the web of underground passageways. Via the BBC:

The home of a man who dug a labyrinth of tunnels under his property in east London over a period of 40 years has been sold for £1.12m.

William Lyttle, 79, who earned the nickname Mole Man, had made tunnels up to 60ft (18.2m) long under the 20-room house in Mortimer Road, Hackney. He was evicted in 2006 and rehoused in a flat, where he died in June 2010. Hackney Council discovered the network of tunnels under the house, which originally belonged to Mr Lyttle’s parents.

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Hundreds Of Olympic ‘Branding Police’ Begin Patrolling Britain Today

The previously discussed purple-uniformed brand police have hit the streets, and will fine or jail those who violate the specially-legislated “rights” of companies which are official Olympic sponsors. The Independent writes:

Hundreds of uniformed Olympics officers will begin touring the country today enforcing sponsors’ multimillion-pound marketing deals. Wearing purple caps and tops… checking firms to ensure they are not staging “ambush marketing” or illegally associating themselves with the Games at the expense of official sponsors such as Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and BP.

[Drinking establishments] have been advised that blackboards advertising live TV coverage must not refer to beer brands or brewers without an Olympics deal, while caterers and restaurateurs have been told not to advertise dishes that could be construed as having an association with the event. At the 40 Olympics venues, 800 retailers have been banned from serving chips to avoid infringing fast-food rights secured by McDonald’s.

Marina Palomba, for the McCann Worldgroup agency in London, described the rules as “the most draconian law in advance of an Olympic Games ever”.

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Queen Rat: Victorian London’s Sewer Succubus

Toshers were scavengers who explored the vast, ancient sewers of Victorian London in search of lost coins and salvage, but even greater rewards awaited those fortunate enough to encounter the legendary Queen Rat. As Mike Dash of Smithsonian Magazine reports:

…A second myth, far more eagerly believed, told of the existence (Jacqueline Simpson and Jennifer Westwood record) “of a mysterious, luck-bringing Queen Rat”:

This was a supernatural creature whose true appearance was that of a rat; she would follow the toshers about, invisibly, as they worked, and when she saw one that she fancied she would turn into a sexy-looking woman and accost him. If he gave her a night to remember, she would give him luck in his work; he would be sure to find plenty of money and valuables. He would not necessarily guess who she was, for though the Queen Rat did have certain peculiarities in her human form (her eyes reflected light like an animal’s, and she had claws on her toes), he probably would not notice them while making love in some dark corner.

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7/7 Conspiracy Theories and Connecting the Dots

Ellywa (CC)

If the London terrorist attacks of 7 July 2005 have not obsessed conspiracy theorists to the extent of the American 9/11 attacks, they have still been fertile ground. A summary of sorts is provided by Tom Secker at the Centre for Research on Globalization:

We are on the eve of the 7th anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist attacks in which 56 people, including the alleged culprits, were killed. In that time, numerous theories have been put forward as to what really happened and who was truly responsible. The official theory, that four young British Muslim men radicalised each other into a fanatic religious rage that they chose to express through the medium of suicide bombing, is perhaps the best known. It is, naturally, a conspiracy theory, though because it is officially sanctioned it does not tend to get given its true name. It claims that the four men conspired, with malice aforethought, to murder over 50 people.

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Britain To Install Missiles In Apartment Complexes For London Olympics

London 2012More 2012 Olympics dystopianism as a dense East London neighborhood will be turned into a military base, in the name of pole-vaulting. Robert Booth writes in the Guardian:

The Bow Quarter complex of more than 700 apartments is the first of a handful of housing developments close to the Olympic Park chosen by military planners to host high velocity rockets aimed at preventing an airborne terrorist attack on this summer’s Games.

Ministry of Defence officials will this week inform a number of other residents that their homes have been selected to become part of London’s military lockdown. The missile units will be installed and armed with dummy rockets in time for a national Olympic security exercise starting on Wednesday. The test of the government’s £1bn security plans will see RAF Typhoon fast jets and military helicopters operating above London and the home counties.

“It is rather surreal,” said Nathan Lewis, a software developer who lives in the block beneath where the weapons will be located.

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