Weekend roundup for 13 August
Featuring submachine guns, pipe organs and currywurst
Before we jump in to this week’s sprint through the capital’s highlights, lowlights, vicious slights and bun fights, let us just remind you that until the end of this month you can get a 30-day subscription to London in Bits for zip. Zero. Nadda. It’s a trial, so you have to remember to cancel it if you don’t want it to continue, but we sincerely hope that’s not going to be a problem.
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If you subscribe you’ll get all the food, drink, arts and culture news included in your Saturday roundups, plus you’ll get our midweek issues that only go to paying subscribers. This week we spoke to the brilliant Cathi Unsworth about Jordan, London’s queen of punk. Here’s one of our favourite quotes:
“One of the greatest bits of ‘art’ I've seen recently was an old, disgusting mattress that somebody had dumped just off Powis Square where Performance was filmed. Someone had drawn a massive knob on it and underneath they’d written ‘Gentrify This!’. That suggests to me that the spirit of Ladbroke Grove survives at least.”
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🛤️ There’s so much strike action happening this week, that it’s genuinely difficult to keep track of what’s happening when, but we’ll give it a go. In chronological order: Today (the 13th) Aslef union members are striking which means no Overground service and most train companies are not running (and the ones that are will be hellish). The same is happening on Thursday 18th. Then, on Friday 19th there’s a London Underground strike and bus strike in west London. Then on Saturday 20th there’s another national rail strike. Good luck out there!
🚲 If you do need to get somewhere from Wednesday then you should know that the Dutch bike subscription company, Swapfiets are giving out free bikes from their Spitalfields store from Wednesday. More details here.
💰 As we write this there is still no resolution to the long term funding stalemate between TfL and the government. Despite an ‘extraordinary meeting’ held on Tuesday, there were still conditions in the Department for Transport’s offer that TfL was “unable to accept”. If this keeps on into next week then TfL may have to effectively declare itself bankrupt and start cutting services.
🔫 It’s your typical London story: Family goes paddling in a river in Catford and stumbles on “a large cache of dumped firearms including a submachine gun”.
🍕A new academic study has claimed that the ban on junk food advertising on the TfL network has prevented 100,000 obesity cases. Except the BBC spoke to some independent experts who called the study “one of the worst pieces of junk science I have ever come across in a journal,” and full of “back-of-the-envelope calculations.”
🙉 Some slightly more trustworthy TfL related data did come out City Hall this week. Apparently the Victoria Line is the biggest “hotspot for noise complaints” with five sections of the line receiving 306 complaints since November 2016 (the section between King's Cross St Pancras and Highbury and Islington got the most noise complaints: 108).
👮 Three top ranking Met officers have all announced their departures, five weeks before the new commissioner is due to take over. They are Sir Stephen House, who had temporarily taken charge of the Met after Cressida Dick left; acting deputy commissioner, Helen Ball; and assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave, who was up for the top job, but lost out to Mark Rowley.
💉 All children aged one to nine in London should receive a “precautionary booster” polio vaccination in a programme announced by the UK Health Security Agency. This is in response to 16 polioviruses being identified in 19 sewage samples from boroughs including Barnet, Camden, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. No cases of polio have been reported to date.
🤖 London finally got a mention in the Tory leadership race this week when Liz Truss wrote a piece for the Standard saying that, “It is vital London thrives,” because, “when London does well, Britain does well”. Platitudes aside, Truss promised to “fix Mayor Sadiq Khan’s failings by growing London’s economy, making streets safer, and stopping the never-ending strikes on TfL services” by “using emergency legislation to make it harder for the transport unions to paralyse the city”. She also pledged to “free the City of London from the burden of onerous regulation” and stop the ULEZ expansion. There was, however, precious little detail on how she was going to make any of that happen.
🏡 As for the current PM, he and Carrie are reportedly selling up their Camberwell home (asking price £1.6m) and “are searching for a new home together in Herne Hill.”
🏦 Believe it or not there is a huge class divide in the Square Mile! Just 21% of senior roles are filled by “employees from working class backgrounds”, a fact which threatens productivity and competitiveness in the City.
⛪ St Peter’s, St Helier church in Morden has been granted permission to remove the large mural depicting the ‘last judgement’ that currently sits over its door, because it has “acquired unfortunate connotations” since the Grenfell Tower fire. The painting of a city in flames was commissioned in 1977 and painted by local artist, Peter Pelz (who has created some other paintings that were never likely to end up on a church, but we kind of love them).
🎤 London didn’t make the Eurovision 2023 shortlist. Maybe they figured we might not have a transport system by then.
Art and culture bits
📻 Can you name all the locations in the video for The Street’s new single, Brexit at Tiffany’s? Answers in the comments please.
🎹 Last month a Victorian pipe organ was installed at London Bridge station, and that decision led to this, our favourite YouTube video of the week:
The new cast for Cabaret has been announced and it includes Callum Scott Howells, who scarred us all for life with his performance in It's A Sin, and Madeline Brewer who scarred us all for life and won an Emmy for her performance in The Handmaid’s Tale.
🇳🇬 The Horniman Museum, fresh from winning Museum of the Year last month, announced it will transfer ownership of 72 objects in its collection to Nigeria. The chair of the museum’s trustees said that “The evidence is very clear that objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria.”
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