Weekend roundup for 11 September

Includes rude lollipops, massive spiders and humorously enlarged teapots

👐 Just after we published Wednesday’s edition of LiB Sadiq Khan announced the launch of the London Refugee Response fund. The fund is designed to make sure that the donations of people and organisations are directed to organisations who can provide refugees with things like “mental health support, language support, advice around employment or legal advice.” As we write this £22k has been donated already. If you want to add to that total, you can do so here.

👮On Wednesday, Cressida Dick was offered a two-year extension to her term in office as Met commissioner. On Thursday victims of Met corruption and incompetence (including Stephen Lawrence’s mother) wrote an open letter to the prime minister accusing Dick of “presiding over a culture of incompetence and cover-up” and calling for her to be “properly investigated”. One of the signatories, Paul Gambaccini, went on the Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC programme and tore into the Met and the Beeb. Despite all this, the extension was confirmed on Friday.

⚖️ Following the decision by the US Supreme Court to allow Texas’ near-total ban on voluntary pregnancy terminations, there was a pro-choice demonstration in London this weeks as well as a counter protest by anti-abortion demonstrators. Dazed magazine was there and spoke to pro-choice protesters “about the ban, the power of resistance against it, and how it might influence lawmakers in the UK.”

🌍 London has got its first dedicated offsite consolidation centre for a single office building. That might be one of the most boring sentences we’ve ever written, but it’s actually a pretty impressive story. The office building in question is 22 Bishopsgate, which is due to open fully later this year. When it does, every lorry, van and car delivery will first go to a “consolidation centre” in Borehamwood, which should reduce the the number of vehicle trips to the building from around 1,300 a week to just 50.

🌊 Developers Thames Baths have proposed plans for a lido on the back of a floating pontoon that will give “Londoners and tourists a chance to swim in filtered and warmed river water and sunbathe next to the pool”. No formal proposals has been submitted as yet, but the developers are looking at possible locations in City Hall, the South Bank and Temple Stairs.

🏗️ The City of London Corp has announced an “international competition” for a £50-to-150 million renewal of the Barbican Centre. The winners will be expected to address issues from “upgrading venues and transforming underused areas into new flexible spaces, to improving the welcome, navigating and wayfinding.” (good look with solving the wayfinding!).

🚲 Cycling campaigners have reacted angrily to reports that suggest the Government is planning on “streamlining” the process of testing new lorry drivers. In the week that hundreds protested at one of the city’s most dangerous junctions, the London Cycling Campaign has stressed that “a slackening in safety standards will clearly come at a cost to the health and safety of people cycling in London”.

🚰 London's Victorian water network is “set to receive a £300 million funding boost”. Thames Water has already got a £300m, five year plan to reduce leaks but now they’re doubling the budget “to upgrade the capital's pipe network to make it resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

🍭The Spectator has finally asked the question we’ve all been wondering: why the hell are there nine ‘American candy stores’ on Oxford Street? And why are they selling stuff like “lollipops quite realistically shaped like a vagina”.

Art and culture bits

🗺️ Last week we were moaning about what a nightmare it is to navigate the Open House website. Then LiB reader Jonty Wareing emailed us to let us know he and Mark Steward (both of Infrastructure Club) had “extracted all the Open House listings and created a new map you can filter by day, ticketing, and ticket availability, updated hourly”. While it wasn’t ready in time for last weekend, there’s still plenty to see this weekend… And we can be sure about that because this amazing tool tells us as much!

👊 Punchdrunk (the company responsible for the fact that every other thing in London right now has to be ‘immersive’) are back with a new show. The Burnt City will be a “future noir” that retells the story of the fall of Troy… but in Woolwich. It begins in March and tickets are already selling out.

🎟️ The London Film Festival has revealed its full programme for this year, and it includes 159 features, 21 world premieres and ​​more female film-makers than ever before. Highlights include The Harder They Fall, starring Idris Elba; Maggie Gyllenhaal directing an adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter; and Jane Campion’s 1920s western The Power of the Dog, with Benedict Cumberbatch as a “ruthless and probably gay” cattle rancher.

🎭 Casting has been announced for Grenfell: Value Engineering – Scenes from the Inquiry, a play “based entirely on words used by those involved in the inquiry”, which is set to open at the Tabernacle theatre in October. Although the play is a not-for-profit production, questions have been raised over the timing and a lack of diversity in the cast:

🕺 In case you hadn’t heard, ABBA are staging a “virtual reunion tour” at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park next year. Dezeen has images of the 3,000 capacity, six-sided temporary arena that’s being built to host their “digital avatars”. 

🕷️ The Guardian reports on the “rare and curious objects connected to the natural world” that are due to go on display in London later this month. The exhibition includes “meteorites and a sapphire inscribed as belonging to King Seleucus (third century BC)” … Oh, and textiles produced from the silk of “tropical female spiders the size of a child’s hand”.

👨‍💻️An exhibition of NFTs “with artworks toted to be collectively worth more than $20m” is opening at the HOFA gallery in Mayfair on the 23rd of this month. Some of ”the most sought-after cryptoartworks in the world” will be on display at Portrait of an Era, next to other “cutting-edge contemporary mediums”.

🫖 A large inflatable teapot has appeared on the Southbank (above). Called ‘Samovar’, it’s a commission from Berlin-based art collective Slavs and Tatars, which uses the “humorously enlarged” Russian tea urn as “an emblem to recount the ways in which the history of tea is intertwined with cross-cultural exchange and colonialism.”

Food and drink bits

😋 It was the British Takeaway Awards this week, and while the overall winner was in Sheffield, Gravesend’s Wicked Wings won best takeaway in Greater London, and Gipsy Hill’s Eastern Cuisine won Best in Central London (we’ve tried it, it’s great - plus they offered free meals to children during lockdown).

🏆 There were some other awards this week. Restaurant guide Harden’s named Muse by Tom Aikens as London’s top gastronomic experience. Other winners included Borough Market restaurant Mei Mei for Best Street Food, London Bridge’s Sollip for Top Newcomer, and Alexis Gauthier got Top Vegetarian or Vegan restaurant for the second year running, this time for new venture 123V.

🥐 Criss Cross is London’s “first dedicated croissant café” (above). It’s opening on Old Compton Street sometime later this month. The range includes “yuzu curd with black sesame praline” and “whisky and soy-cured salmon with cashew cream and seaweed”. While there’s no exact date for opening yet, they will be offering  a free croissant of choice for the first 100 customers. Keep an eye on their Instagram for updates.

🌽 Soho veggie institution Mildreds is opening a new plant-based restaurant called Mallow in Borough Market. The new spot is being billed as an “extension of the market" which likely means there’ll be a lot of Borough-based produce on the menu. No exact opening date yet, but you can follow them here.

🆕 We’re going to have to do all the new opening news in one go, otherwise we’re going to run out of space. There’s a new London Cocktail Club opening on Queen Victoria Street in the City. Theatreland institution Joe Allen is finally reopening after 18 months, and they’ve got Russell Norman running the new bar. Pitaya is a ‘fast-casual’ Thai chain that has over 150 locations in Europe, and they’ve just brought their Bangkok street food concept to Covent Garden. The famed Galvin brothers are opening the Galvin Bar & Grill in the dining room of the Kimpton Fitzroy London hotel on Guilford Street on 27 September. And Salt Bae is still insisting his London restaurant will open soon but frankly, we’ve all moved on by this point.

🥙 The Beet is a “new plant-based platform” who have compiled their list of the 5 Best Places to Eat Vegan and Plant-Based in London. One of the five is Crosstown Doughnuts. Now, we love Crosstown as much as the next person, but if you see it as a ‘place to eat’ then we’d respectfully suggest you need to take a long hard look at your diet. We do like how they refer to Herne Hill (home to Peachy Goat) as a “leafy, trendy suburb” though.

🍻 Finally this week, National Geographic has a list of five London drinking dens that’ll transport you to another place that includes “Philadelphia backstreet dive bar” Passyunk Avenue, and Sabor in Piccadilly “for an authentic taste of Spain”.

Long read of the week

BBC Travel has been to visit Drummond Street, the “unassuming street” just west of Euston Station that is London’s original ‘Little India’.

Tweet of the week

This tweet is even better if you imagine Sadiq singing it.