Weekend roundup for 24 July
Includes diamond heists, sad benches and lovely breakfasts
🚨 The man fatally stabbed outside Brixton tube station on Wednesday night was apparently a stuntman who was “filming a music video”. According to some reports, “the victim had been shooting a music video with two Lamborghini sports cars involved, but people saw it and got jealous.”
🚓 A Met officer has been sacked after being caught doing 120mph in his Seat Leon. His excuse? He was “late for a study session before his last exam to become a police officer.”
🚇 Crossrail are starting to get a bit cocky now. This week they’ve been talking up the possibility of the central part of the line opening in February, and now their Chief Exec has said, “It’s possible in autumn 2022 to open an end-to-end railway that would have things like a journey from Heathrow straight through to Canary Wharf…You could get on a train from Heathrow and be in Canary Wharf in 38 minutes.” The Independent does remind us that, “the over-budget and much-delayed line, connecting Heathrow airport and Reading to the west of the capital with Shenfield and Abbey Wood to the east, was originally planned to open in December 2018”.
🚉 Southwark Council has applied for £25 million from the Levelling Up Fund to revamp Peckham Rye Overground station. The plans include “wider platforms, larger passageways, new lifts and staircases, new accessible toilets, bigger entrances, and better access into the station.”
👔 NatWest’s Chairman, Howard Davies has told Bloomberg TV that he “doesn’t expect central London’s footfall to revert to pre-pandemic levels” because office workers are “resisting” a return to five days a week in the office “The days when 2,500 people walked in through our office door at Bishopsgate at 8:30 a.m. and then walked out again at 6 p.m., I think that is gone,” Davies said.
💺 If you were wondering how many people returned to the office on Monday, Business Times has the stats: “By 10am on Monday, travel on the London Underground was 38% of normal demand - no higher than the same period last week - and the vast majority of people were still wearing masks. By 3pm, foot traffic in central London was 10% lower than last week.” They also report that “On Monday, coffee shops said there was no discernible increase in customers, and some lunch cafes were still closed.”
🚽 It’s highly unscientific survey time, thanks to Victorian Plumbing who’ve taken a “look at where in the world has the best (and worst) public toilets” based on their availability, how hygienic they are, and how much they cost. London apparently has more public loos than any other city (the number is 1,463 in case you need that for a future pub quiz tie breaker) and almost three quarters of them are free to use. The bad news? Only a third of them are accessible.
“Sadly Cllr Briggs’ ‘One Lambeth’ colleagues have compared LTN’s to the Holocaust. My message to Cllr Briggs and his colleagues is to dial down otherwise no one will take you seriously.”
(You can watch the full recording of the meeting here).
🥻 The Hackney Citizen has taken a look at the area’s gentrification and spoken to Saif Osmani, a local artist and designer who is currently holding an exhibition on Princelet Street called Framing Banglatown.
💎 The BBC reports that A 60-year-old woman called Lulu stole diamonds worth £4.2m from Boodles on New Bond Street earlier this year “by swapping them with pebbles using sleight of hand”. Apparently Lulu Lakatos “posed as a gemologist” to get near the diamonds. We nominate Helen Mirren to play her in the film.
🧣 Burberry has opened a new flagship store on Sloane Street. And it’s not just a shop. It’s a ‘concept’. Drapers has all the photos of the interior, which, interestingly, is devoid of “screens, smart mirrors or interactive displays.”
💿 Meanwhile HMV announced this week that they’re “set to open ten new high street shops, including a new flagship store in London.” The chain turns 100 this year so their new owner (who bought them out of administration just two years ago…and then closed 27 of their stores) is on a bit of a PR drive, which includes talking up the high street. But an expensive central London flagship store seems like a stretch, even if you can’t buy CDs in Sainsbury’s anymore.
🍛 According to files released by the National Archives, when Bill Clinton visited London in 1997 he turned down tea with the Queen because he fancied a curry instead. “The president and Mrs Clinton were very grateful for HM The Queen’s invitation to tea at the palace, but would wish to decline politely,” reads the memo. “The president had said that he ‘wanted to be a tourist’ and had also expressed an interest in visiting a garden, shops and Indian food.”
📈 A couple of opinion pieces from this week. First, The Spectator argues that there’s a chance that London might have been ‘levelled down’’ already. Mary Dejevsky warns that the “flight to the country and the suburbs” could be for the long term and “that the ‘big smoke’ will be left quieter, emptier – and poorer.” Mary doesn’t flinch from the potential that “the changes wrought by the pandemic, compounded by the spread of technology, presaged new ways of working and living are already sending London’s latest growth spurt into reverse. In other words, that London is not coming back.”
👮 And from the other side of the political spectrum, Spiked’s Paul Stott profiles Cressida Dick, who, he says, has “failed upwards”. According to Stott, Dick’s tenure as Commissioner has been “four years of failure,” but that “won’t stop her being reappointed Met chief.” He finishes by saying “We need to break this cycle of failure and reward. London deserves better.”
😞 We saved the most important bit of news for last: A park bench in Twickenham has been dubbed ‘the most depressing bench in London’. Is it weird that we now feel sorry for a bench?
Art and culture bits
🚩 The Royal Academy of Arts has partnered with Art of London (“a new cultural initiative for the West End) to create The Piccadilly Art Takeover, “the largest public art takeover the capital has ever seen”. The project (which lasts until the end of August) sees Piccadilly decorated with art by five renowned artists and features 30 overhanging flags, 13 pedestrian crossings (above), and takeovers of the 780 sqm Piccadilly Lights.
🌊 The British Museum has acquired more than “100 picture postcard-sized drawings by the great Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai” (also known as the guy who created that ‘great wave’ picture). When the Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything exhibition opens on 30 September it will be the first time in two centuries that the pictures have been on public display.
🎥 To mark the 50th anniversary of the National Film and Television School, the BFI Southbank is showcasing work from some of the school’s best-known alumni. The ‘NFTS at 50’ season runs from 1 September to 5 October, and includes An Evening with Roger and James Deakins, Kurt & Courtney with Nick Broomfield, The Souvenir with Joanna Hogg, and Absolute Beginners with Julien Temple and cinematographer Oliver Stapleton. Tickets go on sale to the public on 5 August.
📱 The first events have gone on sale for the sixth annual London Podcast Festival. The festival “celebrates the best in UK and international podcasting talent” and is held at at Kings Place in Kings Cross between 2 and 12 September. Right now you can get tickets to see shows like The Allusionist, Sofie Hagen’s crime podcast Bad People, Clash of the Titles, and Lucy Porter and Jenny Ryan’s Fingers On Buzzers.
🎬 The British Film Institute has teamed up with University College London for a “£1m research project into the links between racism, racial inequality, diversity and policy in the UK film industry.” The three-year study will “explore the experiences of people of colour at every stage of the industry, including actors, filmmakers, funders and technicians, as well as those of Black and minority ethnic film audiences.”
👨🎨️ Southwark is now home to a “new cultural hub for South London” in the form of FormaHQ. The rather cool modernist building on Great Dover Street by Bricklayer’s roundabout, houses “five affordable artist studios, a residency space for visiting international artists, an event space and room for a café and bookshop.” Plus the rooftop has been converted into a public garden.
🎫 289 is a new club that’s opening in a Victorian railway arch in Bethnal Green. As well as “providing a relaxed, inclusive and immersive environment for artists and audiences” the 400 sqft, 220-capacity venue is also offering “a range of live streaming and video production services.” The club is hosting a series of launch parties with live shows and DJ sets all next week.
🎨 There’s a free open-air art installation happening at Boxpark in Shoreditch today. If you go along between 5.30pm to 10.30pm tonight you’ll be able to watch a pair of artists “painting a piece of art onto a sculpture live”. These “reimagined three-dimensional sculptures,” will then be “showcased on London streets and billboards”.
♻️ If you’ve ever been tempted to put that massive chunk of polystyrene in your recycling bin then you might want to go to the new exhibition in Coal Drops Yard called Thanks for Trying. The show is aiming to “highlight the consequences of attempting to recycle inappropriate materials,” and features “some of the more unorthodox objects that have been rejected from north London’s household recycling stream, including helmets, reading glasses and fairy wings.”
Food and drink bits
🎣 And if you want to linger in that refined, old school London universe a little longer, here’s a whole article from Tatler on why J Sheekey is still London’s most fabulous fish restaurant, 125 years on.
👨🍳️ 3 Henrietta Street is “a restored five-storey building built in 1780” in Covent Garden. As of September it’s going to house three restaurants, all from different chefs. There’ll be Pivot Mark Greenaway's “modern British” place, which will sit alongside El Ta'Ko the first UK outpost of Luis Pous’s Miami restaurant, and finally Lilly's from pastry chef Kimberly Lin (former head pastry chef at Claridge’s).
🍕 Next week, Borough Market favourite Elliot’s opens a second location in Hackney.
Elliot’s Hackney isn’t messing with the formula, the same classic dishes, sourdough pizzas and natural wines will be available at the new location on Mare Street when it opens on Thursday.
🍕🍕They’ll soon have to compete with Ombra (“one of London’s outstanding pandemic performing restaurants”) who are planning to serve more of their Roman pizza out of a new cafe and bakery this November when they open a second spot in “a railway arch just 50 metres away from its original restaurant on the corner of Hackney’s Vyner Street.”
🎩 Hot Dinner has some details on The Top Hat, the restaurant that will sit alongside the immersive Monopoly game on Tottenham Court Road when it opens next month. Drinks on offer include “the Leicester Square Red Carpet Daiquiri or the non-alcoholic Marlborough Street Soho Forest Jamtini.” We can’t wait for Jay Rayner to review it.
🌶️ Bloomberg ran an article this week claiming that New York now has better Indian food than London… Whatever.
🍳 This week’s ‘Best of…’ list is Elle’s 19 Of The Best Breakfasts In London. Good to see the Riding House Cafe on there, and St John of course. And we confess we had no idea that 400 Rabbits had taken over the Lido café in Brockwell Park. Might have to get down there.
Long read of the week
This one is a loooong read (about 6,000 words). It’s the LRB’s review of Owen Hatherley’s book, Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London, which “speaks up for the metropolis against a national government that is openly contemptuous of it, but also speaks out against the way the city is caricatured by some on the British left, who sometimes treat it as if it were six hundred square miles of South Kensington.”