Recent posts in my London Category

January 17, 2013

Was the Guardian right to open comments on their Vauxhall helicopter crash live blog?

The Guardian’s website has been no stranger to controversy over the last couple of weeks, and yesterday was no exception, with the decision to have comments open on the live blog of the unfolding reporting of the helicopter crash in London.

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December 14, 2012

A culture hack for London’s schools

This week I got to participate in a day-long “Culture Hack” with a range of people representing some of London’s biggest cultural institutions. Here is what I made of the day.

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September 5, 2012

Olympex at the British Library

One of the sadder things about the summer of the Olympics and Paralympics drawing to a close is that lots of great exhibitions are also coming to an end. There are only a couple of days left to catch “Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games” at the British Library.

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May 2, 2012

Would you vote for that web design? London Mayoral campaign sites reviewed

We seem to have matured beyond declaring each year that this is “going to be the internet election” to having campaign web sites and social media as an integral part of the political cycle. Here are some notes I’ve made whilst looking at the sites of the candidates for tomorrow’s London Mayoral elections.

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October 18, 2010

London 2012 Olympic ticket prices accessibility failure

A long list of numbers is the very definition of tabular data, easily represented in an accessible HTML <TABLE> structure. And yet the ticket prices for the Olympic games were only made public as a PDF file...

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July 7, 2010

5 years on - how the BBC homepage covered the 7/7 London bombings

When suicide bombers attacked the London Underground 5 years ago, I was in charge of the technical delivery of the BBC homepage. During the course of the day I kept a record of how the page was used to convey information to Londoners, setting record levels of streaming media usage in the process.

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June 11, 2010

National Express East Anglia bullies - an update

I've made a further complaint, after getting an unsatisfactory reply from National Express East Anglia about the way their staff bullied my wife. Their customer service email used the 'data protection act' as a means of avoiding telling me whether my complaint had been upheld, or any action taken.

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May 19, 2010

A thank you to London Underground thanks to abusive National Express East Anglia

My family had a dreadful 'customer' experience at the hands of abusive National Express East Anglia staff at Liverpool Street station on Sunday morning. However, a member of London Underground staff came to our rescue. In seeking to find out how to thank them, I discovered that TfL have a form to do that on their website.

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January 18, 2010

Council coverage in local newspapers: Waltham Forest and Romford

Sarah Hartley has been using the 'Help me investigate' crowd-sourced journalism tool to find out how local newspapers cover local councils. I've chipped in with a review of coverage in the Waltham Forest Guardian and the Romford Recorder.

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December 17, 2009

Katherine Green: "Wood Street, E17" and "1948 Olympians"

Two of photographer Katherine Green's projects have been about subjects close to my heart - one documenting the shops on Wood Street where I used to live, and one a series of portraits of British Olympians from the 1948 London Olympic Games.

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November 27, 2009

London IA Mini 4: Max Gadney - "The glass-bottomed boat"

Early in November we held the fourth London IA Mini conference evening. Zebra People sponsored the night, which was hosted by EMC Conchango. In the first part of my round-up of the evening, I had some notes and a video clip of Max Gadney's opening talk. BBC History archive - 'What is the way in?' Max was talking about how information design needs to be really useful for the audience, and not just about 'designing for ourselves'. As a commissioner...
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November 16, 2009

Olympic Memory Marathon: Part 3 - My Olympic memory

On November 7th I took part in the Olympic Memory Marathon, a video project by artist Simon Pope capturing 104 Londoners talking about their experience of the Olympics, whilst he walked the length of a marathon through the streets of the boroughs hosting the 2012 games. These are the memories that I related to him. I've never been lucky enough to go to an Olympics, but I have visited several of the stadiums where the games have been held....
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November 13, 2009

Olympic Memory Marathon: Part 2 - "I am one of the 104"

At the weekend I took part in an art project for the London 2012 Olympics called the "Memory Marathon". Artist Simon Pope walked the distance of a marathon whilst talking to 104 people who lived or worked in the London Boroughs hosting the next games about their memories of the Olympics. Yesterday I blogged about the workshops leading up to the event, and today I wanted to write about my experience on November 7th, the day of the "Memory...
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November 12, 2009

Olympic Memory Marathon: Part 1 - The project and workshops

"This is an unusual project, and I can tell that by being here you are unusual people" Our facilitator wasn't wrong - within a couple of minutes of arriving at my first workshop for the Olympic Memory Marathon I was being accosted by a wonderful fiftysomething out of work actress assuring me that didn't do porn (but that she did get asked), and by another guy tipsy enough that he gave the impression of not remembering why he was...
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November 11, 2009

"Waltham Forest is calling for back-up" campaign lays down a welcome mat for criminals

I became a crime statistic last week, when my bike was stolen in Walthamstow.Again.It has prompted me to blog about something that has been irritating me in the Borough for some time. On the day I discovered my bike was missing, I'd been in Selbourne Walk The Mall, where volunteers were out in force trying to get me to sign a council petition. "Waltham Forest is calling for back-up" is a politically motivated council campaign calling for more police in...
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October 15, 2009

Ice Sunday: Part 3 - The death of the ice trade

Over the last couple of days I've been writing about my visit to the London Canal Museum on "Ice Sunday". This was a chance to explore one of Carlo Gatti's ice wells - a remnant of an industry that flourished during the 1800s, but which was gone by the time the First World War arrived. I often write about music and the newspaper industry, both areas where technological advance has disrupted established businesses. In his talk during "Ice Sunday", Malcolm...
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October 14, 2009

Ice Sunday: Part 2 - Descent into the ice well

Yesterday I was posting about a trip I made to the London Canal Museum back in June. It was on a special open day called "Ice Sunday". Usually visitors to the museum can only peer down into the ice well that lies below the building, but on this day, guide Martin Sach was leading groups down into the depths. The well is thought to be about 40ft deep. This measurement comes from documents recording that a workman fell 40 ft...
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October 13, 2009

Ice Sunday: Part 1 - The Victorian ice trade at the London Canal Museum

Way back on June 14th I went to the London Canal Museum for "Ice Sunday". This seems to be one of those annual events that was going to happen anyway, but which somehow got co-opted into 'The Story Of London' as if they were actually being put on and funded by the Mayor. The day consisted of a short talk about the ice trade by Malcolm Tucker, followed by an opportunity to descend into this Victorian fridge. Whilst we take...
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October 12, 2009

London IA in the Pub on with added slides

Wednesday 14th October sees the latest edition of London IA in the Pub. We are going to be at the Island Queen in Islington, and this time we are going to have a series of quick'n'dirty presentations in the upstairs room. Lab49 are kindly supplying the kit for that. We hope that on the night we'll have the following talks: Stuart Cruickshank - The UX of search Leisa Reichelt - What I’ve learned about UX freelancing Boon Chew - The...
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September 25, 2009

Last chance to object to the church plans for Walthamstow's art deco cinema

Today is the final day to object to a planning application seeking permission to turn Walthamstow's listed art deco cinema into a church. As you may know, the cinema has been closed for some time, and the church owners have allowed it to fall into considerable disrepair. Back in the sixties, the EMD used to have concerts on, including The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Who. It also has lots of cinematic history, being the cinema where Alfred Hitchcock grew...
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September 18, 2009

London Linked Data meet up: Notes and take-away quotes - part 2

This week I've posted quite a bit about the Linked Data London meet-up that I attended in Hammersmith last week. As well as a two part transcript of my contribution to a panel about 'linked data and the future of journalism', yesterday I published the first part of a set of notes and take-away quotes from the event. Here are some more. 'About a third of a newspaper is data' - Andrew Walkingshaw Either he is stalking me, or I...
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September 17, 2009

London Linked Data meet up: Notes and take-away quotes - part 1

Last week I attended the first London Linked Data meet-up. It was organised by Georgi Kobilarov and Silver Oliver, and they kindly invited me to speak on a panel about 'Linked Data and the future of journalism'. Earlier this week I published a two part rough transcript of my contribution to that debate. Today I wanted to publish the first of two posts looking at what I made of the rest of the event, which was, at times, a little...
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September 3, 2009

London IA Mini Conference III: UX London Redux

It seems an age since it took place, but a couple of weeks ago we held the third London IA Mini Conference. This time the venue was a space near London Bridge donated by The Team, and the theme of the evening was a redux of the UX London conference organised by Clearleft. The event was kindly sponsored by Zebra People. Andy Budd on the future of UX London Andy Budd of Clearleft opened the evening, talking about how UX...
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September 2, 2009

'thelondonpaper' website review

I don't know, you take a couple of days off work to move house become homeless, and people start closing newspapers behind your back. My commute home will shortly face one less obstruction when I'm walking down York Way. It was only at the end of May that doomed free newspaper thelondonpaper was advertising their free website for London - - with a big wrap-around spread that reproduced the newly re-designed site in print. Free seems to have very...
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September 1, 2009

The BT broadband boxes that have muzzled the Muswell Hill fibre trial

Muswell Hill BT fibre controversy
Pictures of the new BT broadband boxes causing a nuisance on North London streets.

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August 26, 2009

Celtic fans take over Kings Cross Underground noticeboards

For a while today, Celtic fans managed to redecorate Kings Cross Underground Station with their own take on the important information they needed to know about getting to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium for their Champions League play-off tie. At first glance I thought it was an example of London Underground being extra helpful to visiting fans to London, but I soon realised that the poster had been put together by fans of the Queen's Celtic themselves (© Fivers passim) This was...
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August 11, 2009

Free newspapers or free wifi - which appeals more?

Free newspapers or free wifi
If a cafe, bar or pub near you offered the choice, which would you prefer, free newspapers or free wifi?

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August 10, 2009

'Fabiola' by Francis Alÿs at the National Portrait Gallery

Just over a week ago I went to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Francis Alÿs exhibition 'Fabiola', supported by the Dia Art Foundation. He has spent years gathering reproductions of a now lost painting by Jean-Jacques Henner. Split over two rooms, the viewer is confronted with around 300 slight variations on the same image of a young woman in profile wearing a red veil. At first, of course, it is the similarity that strikes you. Gradually, though, it...
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July 25, 2009

Spotted! A multi-lingual sign on the tube

One of the notable things about our travels through Eastern Europe a couple of years back was that we could pretty much make our way around with only learning a smattering of 'yes', 'no', 'please' and 'thank you' in any country we came too. Nearly all of our travel arrangements could be made in English on the web, and pretty much every travel interchange we used came with copious amounts of dual language signage including English. Visiting Macau and Hong...
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July 15, 2009

The Barbican at 40

Today the City of London Corporation is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Barbican Estate with a party for around 400 residents. As anniversaries go, the timing seems a little bit arbitrary - I've seen articles on the web suggesting the actual anniversary was July 7th or July 8th - but it was certainly in 1969 that people and families first moved into the new tower blocks. They are now a familiar part of the London skyline,...
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June 1, 2009

My 'undecided' view of European Election literature in London

So, for the first time that I can recall, if you polled me a couple of days before an election, I'd have to honestly say I was 'Undecided'. I'm seriously thinking of voting for a smaller party or an independent candidate, and so last week I did some research and put together a brief list of all of the candidates for the London European Election. As I'm unsure who to vote for, I've also been paying closer attention than...
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May 29, 2009

"Actor in Muswell Hill UFO Sighting Mystery!"

Having written a few posts recently about the potential impact of local council publications on the local press in London, I have to confess that sometimes, when I see what is making the billboards belonging to the Muswell Hill Journal, I can understand why Haringey Council think they need their own magazine as well...!...
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May 27, 2009

'Local newspaper week' - The local council publicity machine

During 'Local newspaper week', I wrote about the impact of local council newspapers on the commercial press. This led to some really interesting comments, and as a result I surveyed the publications produced by London's Boroughs. A quarter of them are at least fortnightly, and over 70% of them take commercial advertising, including giving away free classified listings in one instance, and yet the LGA insists that they do not compete. Another reason that I struggle to buy the necessity...
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May 26, 2009

'Local newspaper week' - Council newspapers in London

"H&F News is Hammersmith & Fulham's leading newspaper, with more readers, more news and more influence than any other paper. If you are looking for a way to reach homes across Fulham, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush which is cost effective and reliable, then look no further. 87,000 copies of H&F News are delivered monthly to homes across the borough - more than any other local media." That must sound pretty attractive to an advertiser trying to target the local area....
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May 23, 2009

A quick online guide to the minor party and independent London European Election Candidates

"London European Election Guide"
A brief outline of the independent candidates and smaller parties standing for European Election in London

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May 21, 2009

The (sometimes) free London Evening Standard

Last night I went to a fascinating round table panel session put on by MTM London at One Alfred Place with the title 'Do online newspapers have a future in a Digital Britain'. The evening was under Chatham House Rules, which means I need to work a little bit harder on how I'm going to blog about the event itself. Whilst I'm wrestling with that conundrum, I was struck by something on the way home that seemed to sum up...
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May 15, 2009

'Local Newspaper Week' - Being local...

This week has been, according to the Newspaper Society, 'Local Newspaper Week'. It seemed like an opportune moment to blog about some of the things I've noticed about my local newspapers since I moved to Muswell Hill. I've been collecting clippings and pictures of the Muswell Hill Journal and Ham & High Broadway since October, and so far this week I've blogged about advertising, some of the issues around local democracy and the potential impact of the local council's own...
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May 14, 2009

'Local Newspaper Week' - Council newspapers

Between the 11th and 17th May, the Newspaper Society has been promoting 'Local Newspaper Week'. To coincide with this, I've been blogging about some of the things I've noticed about my local newspapers since moving into Muswell Hill last October. So far I've looked at advertising, and at some of the issues around local democracy. Local council newspapers The business model of the regional press is under severe strain. Not only is the economic situation affecting display advertising, but the...
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May 13, 2009

'Local Newspaper Week' - Democracy

For 'Local Newspaper Week' I've been looking at some of the things I've noticed about my local press in Muswell Hill since I moved there back in October. Yesterday I was looking at some issues around advertising. Today I wanted to look at local democracy. One of the principle reasons for ensuring that our regional media survives the current economic climate is because of the diligent role they play in attending council meetings, court proceedings, and holding local organisations like...
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May 12, 2009

'Local Newspaper Week' - Advertising

This week it is the Newspaper Society's 'Local Newspaper Week'. I'm writing a series of blog posts looking at some of the things I've noticed about my local newspapers over the last few months, in print and online. Today I wanted to look a little at the advertising in my local press. Births, deaths and adverts One of the traditional areas of revenue generation for the local newspaper was the 'announcements' page, where people paid to publicly announce births, deaths...
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May 11, 2009

'Local Newspaper Week' - Welcome to your new local...

This week the Newspaper Society is promoting 'Local Newspaper Week'. The aim is to highlight the valuable links that our UK regional press provide with their communities. I've been collecting some clippings and screen-shots from several regional papers in print and online over the last few months, and so it seemed an appropriate week to start blogging about them. Welcome to your new local... I came back to London in October last year, and, being a newspaper kind of guy,...
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April 30, 2009

Coded terrorist signals on the Victoria Line

I spotted another electronic signage oddity on the Victoria Line the other day, to go with the recent 'No message' I saw at Walthamstow Central. This time it was at Finsbury Park. Now, I know that it is just a random scramble of pixels, but there looks to be something a bit Arabic about the writing. Given their propensity to publish anti-Islamic terrorism scaremongering at the drop of a hat, even if it is completely unfounded, I'm surprised this hasn't...
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April 14, 2009

How the Ian Tomlinson G20 video spread The Guardian brand across the media

It isn't in the too dim and distant past that if you wanted to get some newsworthy video footage published in the UK, you only had a choice of taking it to the BBC, ITN, or Sky. Now the majority of serious newspaper websites have the ability to embed video on the web, and some, like The Guardian, Telegraph and The Sun have made multimedia studios an essential part of their newsroom set-up. Last week one of the biggest news...
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April 12, 2009

Tracking the "Credit Crunch" with Google Street View: Crouch End

Yesterday I posted some comparison photos between Muswell Hill now, and Muswell Hill when the Google Street View cars visited, to illustrate how the "Credit Crunch" had been affecting local businesses. Actually, there only appeared to be three casualties - The Fine Burger Co., A-1 Wines, and Woolworths. In Crouch End, it was a different story. The biggest closure again appears to be Woolworths, which occupied a big store near the Henry Reader Williams memorial Clock Tower. You'll also spot...
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April 11, 2009

Tracking the "Credit Crunch" with Google Street View: Muswell Hill

Tracking the "Credit Crunch" with Google Street View
Comparing recent pictures of shops in Muswell Hill and Crouch End with how they appeared when the Google cameras were in town

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April 9, 2009

'No message' at Walthamstow Central

I'd love to know who was the person writing the functional spec for the London Underground matrix displays at Walthamstow Central who decided that there needed to be a special case for when there was: "NO MESSAGE" Even more, I'd like to meet the person who had to write the bit of code that must say something along the lines of: if ($message = undef) { print "NO MESSAGE"} Obviously, the code is there so that you can tell whether...
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April 8, 2009

London Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace

At the end of March I found myself at Alexandra Palace on a Saturday morning for the London Festival of Railway Modelling. Although I've never had anything more sophisticated than a Lego train set myself, it is clearly exactly the kind of geeky hobby I would have been into if ZX Spectrums and Doctor Who hadn't existed in my formative years. I found it to be a little different from the London Model Engineering Exhibition that I attended in the...
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March 21, 2009

London's abandoned Underground Stations on Google Street View

Abandoned Tube Stations on Street View
Peek at the disused bits of London's Underground that you can see overground using Google Street View

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March 20, 2009

The fragile future of newspapers at the British Library

We are used to hearing newspapers described as fragile these days, but usually in the context of their business models, rather than the physical preservation of the artifact. Not so at the British Library last week, where 750 million pages of newspaper were described as "the most fragile" part of their collection by Helen Shenton, Head of Collection Care. It is a problem that makes freesheet ink rubbing off on your hands seem trivial by comparison. Photo courtesy of stevecadman...
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March 19, 2009

The future of 'the future' - the British Library and technology

Yesterday I blogged about an event I went to at the British Library called "A building for now and the future: the British Library after 10 years". One of the most interesting aspects for me was the discussion around technology. Photo courtesy of Istvan We take it for granted now that libraries carry a great deal of digital information and services. Indeed, one of the future construction projects mooted for the British Library site is a Digital Research Centre. However,...
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March 18, 2009

"Stacks, Readers, Staff" - Building the British Library

I was at a fascinating British Library event last week called "A building for now and the future: the British Library after 10 years". It was a look back at the torturous process by which the new building came to be built. In fact, prior to this government's woeful recent IT record, building the British Library was the text-book example of how not to run a public sector procurement project. Photo courtesy of stevecadman Architect Sir Colin St. John 'Sandy'...
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February 8, 2009

The Independent goes Muswell Hill at least

It looks like the credit crunch is beginning to bite around Muswell Hill, and this week we lost our branch of the Fine Burger Company. That didn't deter The Independent's distribution team, however. This week, despite the country grinding to a halt under the weight of the snow, the newspapers have continued to get through to the branch. I suppose it is one way of keeping the bulk distribution numbers up for those all important ABCs. I can't help feeling,...
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February 7, 2009

Boris thinks casual racism about 2012 London Olympic athletes will be OK, provided you are 'sensitive' about it

When I blogged yesterday about the strengths of the Mail Online's comment voting system, I steered clear of comment on the subject matter being voted on. It seemed to me that there were enough people pontificating on the Carol Thatcher / One Show issue, so why should I add anything to the cacophony?However, yesterday I changed my mind. Firstly I read this piece by Hannah Pool in The Guardian, which reminded me of how much racial abuse my non-white classmates...
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January 20, 2009

London Model Engineering Exhibition at Alexandra Palace

Following my recent trips to the BBC Studios and the old Victorian Theatre, I was back at Alexandra Palace again at the weekend. This time it was for the "London Model Engineering Exhibition". It was an unashamedly niche and geeky event, but I'd invited my young nephew along, which was my excuse anyway. It was a strange mix of a trade show and an exhibition. On one stand, for example, you could by sophisticated engineering equipment that would set you...
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January 19, 2009

"The Tottenham Outrage" centenary

Known foreign subversives living in London and committing crime.Public dismay at the lack of control over immigration.Brave policemen laying down their lives to protect the public from acts of foreign terrorists.No, not the result of a decade of New Labour Government, but the situation behind what came to be known as the 'Tottenham Outrage', which took place 100 years ago this week. At around 10:30am on Saturday 23rd January 1909, 'Paul Helfeld' and 'Jacob Lepidus' pulled off a wage snatch...
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January 17, 2009

BBC Television studio open day at Alexandra Palace

As part of the open day into the more obscure parts of the Alexandra Palace complex over the Christmas holiday, I got to visit one of the studios where, on the 2nd of November 1936, the BBC started broadcasting the world's first regular television service. The studios are housed in one of the neglected corners of the palace, and only kept open by a group of enthusiasts. Even on these kinds of occasion, only a fraction of the original broadcasting...
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January 16, 2009

Open day at the Alexandra Palace Victorian Theatre

In the lull between Christmas and the New Year, I got to visit a couple of the more obscure corners of Alexandra Palace, thanks to open days put on by local enthusiasts. One of the venues which is otherwise seldom open to the public that you could visit was the Victorian Theatre. The Victorian Theatre can be found at the eastern end of Alexandra Palace, alongside the ice rink. This was added as part of the rebuilding following the disastrous...
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January 15, 2009

Police try to stop Walthamstow blogger taking pictures of a bus crash

I spotted in London Lite this evening the story of the 97 bus that crashed into McDonalds in Hoe Street in Walthamstow, and then noticed a big spike in traffic to an old currybetdotnet post about a crash near Walthamstow Central station just after it opened in September 2004. That caused the station to be closed whilst all lit up for the evening, and I sneaked in to grab some photos.   I thought, as I've done with things like...
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January 9, 2009

What is the collective noun for a group of atheist buses in London?

I've spent much of today trundling around London by bus, with varying degrees of success. Along the way I passed through Euston station which was chock full of number 18 buses all sporting the British Humanist Association's "There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" advert. It caused me to wonder aloud on Twitter what the collective noun for a group of atheist buses might be. I got a few good suggestions back. @smagdali: a 'future' @scolvey:...
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December 27, 2008

'Parachuting Teddy Bear Jumps' in Muswell Hill

You might have noticed on the blog that since the move back to the UK, I've been trying to do lots of 'local' things, and really get to grips with having moved to a new area of London. As well as the couple of book launches that I've blogged about - 'Hornsey Past' and 'The Folklore of London' - I've been for a guided walk in Highgate Wood, and even ventured into a carol service in the John Baird pub,...
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