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London News Headlines from June 2004
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9/11 Turns Up Heat on Bush and Blair
- British premiere draws stars in run-up to its release
BRITISH premiere of American documentary blockbuster Fahrenheit
9/11 drew big crowds to Leicester Square last night.
The film, which attacks the US and British invasion of Iraq,
has broken box office records in America on the first week of
its release and is predicted to perform similar ticket-sales
miracles over here.
"It's going to do really well," said a spokesperson
for the film's UK distributors. Among the guests to the celebrity
screening were actors Jude Law and Peter O'Toole and anti-war
MPs Claire Short and George Galloway.
9/11 opens to the public on the 9th of July.
Shop Boys Bring Battle to Trafalgar
- Free film-music concert at square for early autumn
Square is to be the site for the world premiere of new film sound
track music composed by the Pet Shop Boys. The electronic music
duo - most famous for 80s hit West End Girls - have
written a new score for legendary Russian silent movie Battleship
Potemkin, directed by Sergei Eisenstein.
"It's wonderful to be given the opportunity to write a complete
soundtrack to this classic film and then to perform it as a free
concert in the heart of London," said Pet Shop Boys singer
Neil Tennant. Battleship Potemkin is regarded by film buffs as
one of the most important movies of all time in its powerful
use of 'montage' - the juxtaposition of successive images to
create meaning and emotional response.
The film concerns a revolt by sailors on the eponymous warship
in 1904, which, by the time the film was made in 1925, had become
a symbol of revolutionary action. As well as its connections
with naval matters - the Battle of Trafalgar
itself - Trafalgar Square has long been one of the main sites
in London for political demonstrations and it is this connection
which helped make it the
space of choice for the Pet Shop Boys premiere.
"Trafalgar Square is the place for re-imagining the past
in terms of the needs of the present," said
Philip Dodd, director of the ICA, which is organising the event.
Tennant and partner Chris Lowe will be joined in the square on
the 12th of
September by the Dresden Sinfoniker.
Water Fun for Wimbledon Stars
- Mac and Monica to play on the Thames
have thought Wimbledon tennis people would have had enough of
water after a week in which play at the famous tournament has
been disrupted by the rain.
no, Wimbledon chiefs have organised more liquid fun for fans
by persuading ex-champions John McEnroe and Monica Selles to
play on a specially modified barge on the Thames.
pair will knock some balls as the barge, complete with artificial
grass and nets, passes the London Eye, the Tate Modern and Tower
Bridge. The event is part of a plan to publicise the big screens
broadcasting Wimbledon near
Tower Bridge from the first to the fourth of July. Alicia Keyes
is to play a free concert at the bridge as well.
Flame Burns for London
- Torch relay to ignite spirit of the games
OLYMPIC flame will burn through London on Saturday on its route
around various world cities in the build-up to the Athens Games
later this summer.
is the first time that the Olympic Flame has visited Britain
since 1948," said London Mayor Ken Livingstone. "It
is a great honour for London."
it's the middle weekend of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the
flame is to start its journey on Centre Court and will then be
carried through large parts of the capital including the British
Olympic Committee HQ at Wandsworth, Clapham Common, Brixton,
Camberwell Green, Greenwich Park, Canary Wharf, Brick Lane, City
Hall, Bankside, the Natural History Museum and Soho.
the evening, to celebrate he flame's arrival, a free concert
is taking place on The Mall featuring the likes of James Brown,
Jamelia, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Will Young.
details of Torch Day at: www.london.gov.uk/torchrelay
6,500 Miles from A to B by Bike
- London-leg of 'modern-day odyssey' for Pimlico Parry
Paul Parry pedals through London today as part of his astonishing
6,500 journey from A to B.
raise money for the Red Cross and Victim Support Westminster,
Parry is nearly half way through a ride from A in Norway to Bee
in Nebraska, USA. "People are always talking about travelling
from A to B - but until now - no one has ever attempted this
modern-day odyssey," said Parry, who has already managed
2,500 miles of the trip after travelling through Norway, Sweden,
Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
who lives his normal life in Pimlico, has chosen to complete
his mission by two-seater tandem bike so he can pick up passengers
along the way in a bid to lessen the feared boredom of hours
alone in the saddle.
south west out of London today, Parry is bound for Southampton
from where he will travel on the Queen Mary 2 liner to New York.
on the trip here:
Elliot Gets Ticket to the West End
- Ballet-show due to start March 2005
ELLIOT, one of the most successful British films of recent years,
is to become a West End musical.
film's story of a young boy in a north England mining town who
finds creative solace in ballet, despite the objections of his
father, captured the hearts of cinema goers in 2000 and took
UKP100 million at the box office along the way.
music for the show is be be written by Sir Elton John who counts
himself among the film's biggest fans. "When I saw it, I
was so moved," John said. "I was seen to be sobbing
in my seat and at the end of it had to be carted out by about
involved in the project are Lee Hall, who wrote the screenplay
for the movie, Stephen Daldry, the film's director and choreographer
Peter Darling. Billy Elliot the musical is scheduled to open
next March and has a budget of some UKP6 million, double that
of the film.
and Reviews Click here
at Wembley Arena, Thu, 1st July 2004 Click
Shop Flop Blamed on Rooney
- Small turn out on Oxford Street reveals little
people waited for a bus last night at a stop just south of Trafalgar
one for the record books to be sure, but the total of thumb-twiddlers
was one more than showed up for the inaugural Nude Shopping Night
on Oxford Street.
were actually hoping for more but it is the first event we have
run and the football cut numbers down," said Oona Graham-Taylor,
of the Plaza Centre on Oxford Street where the event was held.
surprisingly, Graham-Taylor would only say it was "possible"
that future similar events would go ahead, presumably not on
nights that Wayne Rooney was on telly.
be fair, as well as the England-Croatia match, naturists might
complain that the shops involved didn't really enter into the
swing of things. Shop staff were fully clothed and all nude shoppers
had to register before being allowed into the Plaza like naughty
Federer Backs Henman
- Brit is 'classy' says reigning Wimbledon champ
British tennis player Alex Bogdanovich faces reigning champion
Roger Federer as the Wimbledon tennis tournament bats off today.
ranked at 290 in the world, gets his day in the sun on the legendary
Centre Court ahead of main British hope Tim Henman, whose bid
for the Wimbledon crown tends to dominate coverage of the tournament
in this country.
draw is such that the next British player Federer could meet
is Henman - in the final. Federer describes himself as a Henman
fan. "I have an admiration of his attitude both on and off
the court. He is classy. He knows his potential and what he can
do," the Swiss world number one said.
is very much the future of men's tennis. In the women's section
Martina Navratilova is very much the sport's glorious past, but
the veteran nine-times champion has entered the singles again
this year, providing one of today's highlights when she faces
Catalina Castano on Court Two.
Getting Bigger and Younger
- Official statistics show vote of confidence in capital's future
population rose by nearly ten per cent over the last decade,
according to figures released today by the government-run Office
for National Statistics.
The grand total now stands at 8.3 million, up from 7.6 ten years
ago. Forecasters expect the rise to continue and the population
of the capital to reach over 9 million by 2011.
The make-up of central London is some flux, with 150,000 people
moving out of inner London boroughs each year, to be replaced
by a much greater concentration of young and foreign residents
in a shift which is best seen as a positive vote for the city's
To cope with the extra numbers, both the national government
and London Mayor Ken Livingstone are pushing for a mass home-building
programme, with tens of thousands of new houses set to be built
on mostly brown-field sites in the coming years.
Plans Extra House Building for London
- Green belt could be used to beat homes shortage
of extra new homes are to be built in London if Labour win the
next General Election, Tony Blair has told MPs from his party.
Labour's poor showing in last week's local and European elections,
the Prime Minister is believed to have earmarked housing as the
key issue on which the party can win back support.
Blair is reported to have told a private meeting of his party's
MPs that a promise to build more homes would attract "a
whole generation" of young people currently worried about
being priced off the housing ladder in the south-east.
In what appears to have been a co-ordinated approach, Chancellor
Gordon Brown said in a speech that he wants to help close the
"unacceptable" gap between housing demand and supply.
Labour are already planning tens of thousands of new homes in
London under Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's aegis, especially
on brown-field sites. Blair's new initiative is thought to be
in addition to Prescott's already stated plans and might include
building on London's Green Belt, previously seen as taboo.
The housing move is also thought to be one response to the controversy
over asylum seekers, who are seen by some to be adding to the
waiting list for social housing.
Horse Rides into Cleaner Thames
- 'Sensitive' fish shows success of pollution measures
FIRST sea horse to be seen in the Thames for nearly 30 years
has been put on display at the Southend Sealife Adventure centre,
an example of the success of the anti-pollution drives of recent
"Everyone thinks the Thames Estuary is a polluted, dead
river but that could not be further from the truth," said
the centre's David Knapp.
Found two weeks ago by fisherman Brian Baker, the sea horse (aka
hippocampus hippocampus) was tangled in sea-weed near Leigh-on-Sea.
It was the first such creature to be spotted in the Thames since
a distant cousin turned up in 1976.
"The sea horse is extremely sensitive to dirty water and
would simply not be here if there was significant pollution,"
Knapp said. "We have seen an increase in all sorts of wildlife,
not just fish but birds too. Little egrets and avocets which
were very rarely seen in England a decade ago are now quite a
common sight along parts of the Thames."
Cure Lined Up for Coke Heads
- Slough-based company gives hope to addicts
dope-heads and and crack-whores could be helped to kick their
self-destructive habits with new 'vaccines' that block the drugs'
Yesterday's publication of successful trials on a drug that suppresses
the euphoric effects of cocaine could lead to an easier withdrawal
programme for addicts within a few years.
"It could be adopted by drug-treatment centres - but you
have to look at all the other things that help someone get off
a drug," said Aidan Gray, of the Conference on Crack and
The trial of the new drug were conducted at Yale University after
development by Xenova, a Slough, west of London-based compan.
involved only a dozen cocaine addicts but three-quarters of the
participants were weaned off their habit. Larger scale trials
will now go ahead which are due to report back next year.
Other firms, including the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Synthélabo,
are working on similar effect-blocking drugs for cannabis and
nicotine. Crack-cocaine use in London has seen an explosive growth
in its use over the last decade which has had a huge knock-on
effect on crime. For example, it is estimated that 75 per cent
of inmates of Brixton prison are crack-users.
Aboard for the Arts
- Big rise in take-up of high-culture in last few years
on the sides of London busses is just one of the schemes that
have raised the profile of the arts in recent years, with 800,000
more people attending art events across the country in the last
12 months compared to the same period three years ago.
bus painting scheme run by the South London gallery is a small
part of the picture but is indicative of the way the popularity
of the arts has taken off.
can't think of another sector of activity in this country whose
audience has expanded by such a huge degree in such a short space
of time," said Christopher Frayling, chairperson of the
Arts Council of England. "It is a remarkable statistic."
was talking of the 15.2 million people who have attended at least
two arts events in the past year. a figure which beat a government-set
target by some 60 per cent.
Tickets, Listings and Gallery Info
Plan for the Thames
- South bank near Tower Bridge earmarked as summer sand site
could enjoy sand-fun on the Thames this summer if a plan to lay
a beach gets the go-ahead from Southwark council.
beach would be sited by Potters Field Park which is on the south
bank of the river near Tower Bridge. London last had a city beach
on the north bank just opposite up to the 1950s.
But the plan's expected popularity with Londoners at large is
the very thing that could scupper its chances of being created
as local residents are
thought to be against the beach and will press Southwark council
to that effect.
Local MP Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat candidate for London
Mayor, said: "Potters Fields is a park which we fought very
hard to get as a local community and absolutely won't want taken
away. The beach idea is great. It works in Paris very well. But
there are plenty of other sites that would work better - by Blackfriars
Bridge, for example, or by Gabriel's Wharf."
Attacked by Birdman Bill Oddie
- BBC issues apology after comments on mayor's pigeon policy
AND FALCONS have been in the news recently but today they make
way in the headlines for London's traditional bird, the pigeon.
TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie has hit out at London Mayor
Ken Livingstone, who is up for re-election today, over the latter's
policy of trying to rid Trafalgar Square of what he sees as the
wants to get rid of all pigeons, well I don't think that's a
very good move but I'll have a chance to vote, figure that one
out Ken," Oddie said on Britain Goes Wild With Bill Oddie
comment was in clear breach of the BBC's rules and drew a quick
apology from the channel: "Bill Oddie and the programme
team realise that this comment was not in line with the BBC's
strict policy of impartiality and is not in any way representative
of the BBC," a spokesperson said.
haven't been high on the agendas of Mayoral candidates until
now and it could be that Oddie's intervention has come too late
to save our feathered friends, especially since most of Livingstone's
rivals back his anti-pigeon campaign. It should be said that
Oddie's interest in pigeons isn't itself wholly benevolent as
he wants them to stay in town to provide food for falcons.
well as the mayoral election, Londoners today go to the polls
to vote for members of the Greater London Assembly and for members
of the European Parliament.
Day: 10 June 2004
(Respect - The Unity Coalition)
Ram Gidoomal (Christian Peoples Alliance)
Simon Hughes (Liberal Democrats)
Darren Johnson (Green Party Candidate)
Julian Leppert (British National Party)
Ken Livingstone (The Labour Party Candidate)
Frank Maloney (UK Independence Party)
Dr Tammy Nagalingam (Independent)
Steve Norris (Conservative - for a Safer London)
Lorna Reid (Independent Working Class Association)
details on the above candidates and those standing in the London
Assembly and European Elections see:
Birds Prey on London
- Falcons breed on our roof tops
LONDON has become a breeding ground for wild creatures genetically
programmed to kill.
pair of adult falcons and two chicks have been spotted on the
roof of a building belonging to the University of Westminster.
Mr and Mrs Talon are the first such breeding pair to ever have
been recorded in central London.
among London's deprived rodent community for their liking for
mouse, rat and vole meat, the falcons need regular infusions
of live flesh to survive. Like all birds, the Peregrine Falcons
are known to be close in evolutionary terms to dinosaurs.
is not known if the falcons have attacked University of Westminster
inmates, but it is thought birds of prey might not be able to
detect signs of life in the comatose student body.
Museum Planned for London
- Tatchell gets all-party backing for scheme
gay people from British history, including 'secret' gay and lesbians
such as Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill and Lord Haig
will be the centrepiece of a new Museum of British Gay History
planned for the capital. The scheme's proposer, gay rights campaigner
Peter Tatchell, said: "So many gay people have made a contribution
to British history and their story, their gay story and their
whole story, needs to be told."
Candidates for London Mayor rushed to back the idea. Ken Livingstone
(Labour), Steve Norris (Tory), Simon Hughes (Lib Dem) and Darren
Johnson (Green) all came out for the plan, with Johnson even
including it on his manifesto.
"London is well catered for in terms of the commercial gay
scene. But there has to be more than bars and clubs, both in
terms of tourism and of the people who live here," said
all-party backing for the museum shows how quickly times have
changed. Back in 1999, the Museum of London risked prosecution
under the anti-gay law known as Section 28 when it showcased
a gay history exhibition.
estimates the museum will cost UKP20 million to set-up and hopes
to get the bulk of it from National Lottery funds. His favoured
site is the former Bow Street police station where Oscar Wilde
and Tatchell himself were held after their respective arrests.
to Get Send-Off From Thatcher
- 1980s ally in taped salute to former US President
TEN-MINUTE EULOGY by Lady (Margaret) Thatcher) is to be one of
the highlights at Friday's funeral of Ronald Reagan in Washington
former British Prime Minister and close political ally of the
late US President has been advised by doctors not to speak in
public so she has recorded a message which will be played to
the funeral audience.
Reagan was one of my closest political and dearest personal friends,"
Thatcher said. "He will be missed not only by those who
knew him and not only by the nation that he served so proudly
and loved so deeply but also by millions of men and women who
live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued.
Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the
Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired."
will also attend the event, along with current PM Tony Blair,
who said Reagan had been a "good friend of Britain."
The Stars and Stripes on the roof top of the US Embassy on Grosvenor
Square has been flying at half-mast since the announcement of
Reagan's death on the weekend.
Text Service Aims to Cut Crime
- Cab numbers can be recorded under new scheme
in London worried about their safety when travelling in licensed
taxis and mini-cab can now have some of their fears assuaged
through text messaging.
new phone text service run by Hail Safe means passengers can
text the cab's licence number to a central computer for later
use should anything untoward happen on the journey.
many people, particularly women, who come under attack in cabs
don't feel able to report the crime, partly because they can't
clearly remember important details of the cab and its driver.
don't want people to get these crimes out of perspective as taxi
crimes are rare," said Ceri Allen, Hail Safe's founder.
"But just by taking a few simple steps women can increase
their own personal safety."
good news for taxi passengers might be around the corner with
the announcement of Nokia's upcoming 'wave text' phone. It will
be able to create, in mid-air, short, 15 character, messages
- just enough to scrawl "Your views stink" for the
benefit of those few drivers with an annoying take on issues
of the day.
Stars in First Camden Film Festival
- Azkaban one of many films shot in NW1
sees the launch of the first Camden Film Festival, the highlight
of which is the celebration of the NW1's film credits.
most recent blockbuster to be shot partly in Camden is Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but the borough's filmic
history goes back at least 50 years.
borough has such an extraordinary heritage in the industry -
a heritage which many residents won't even know about - and we
felt it was time this was recognised on a grand scale,"
said Dame Jane Roberts, Camden Council's leader.
events in the festival include tours of the MTV music video studios,
a film masterclass and a Camden Roundhouse film day.
are to be shown at the Camden Lock Screen and the Camden Odeon.
The festival runs until the 7th of June.
Glitch Halts UK Flights
- Flights getting back to normal say Air Traffic Control
across the UK's airspace were grounded early this morning thanks
to a glitch in National Air Traffic Services' software.
software crash happened at NATS's facility in West Drayton, near
Heathrow Airport. As soon as the problem was recognised all take-offs
were suspended to allow incoming planes to land safely.
byte-sized hiccup is believed to have occured between 6.00am
and 7.00am when a computer which had just had an udpate was switched
back on. NATS say they have already ruled out foul play.
the crash many services were able to get off on time, while others
face knock-on delays throughout the day. Passengers are advised
to turn up as usual or if in doubt contact their airline.
General Info -
to Re-Open Victorian Battersea Park
- UKP11 million tart-up for one of London's prettiest spaces
DUKE OF EDINBURGH is to open the revamped Battersea Park today.
famous riverside park in south London has been the subject of
a UKP11 million refurbishment with the aim of restoring it to
something like the way it was intended to look way back when
it first opened in 1854.
has meant restoration of Victorian features such as the wrought-iron
gates and fences and the re-introduction of pink gravel to some
of the park's pavements. The latter change has drawn fire from
disabled campaigners who say wheel-chair users will find it difficult
to negotiate the gravel.
with the Victoriana, modern touches like a new boathouse for
the lake and designer toilets have been included in the revamp.
to Protect Potter
- Cinema staff get night-vision equipment
and technology rather than magic and spells are to save Harry
Potter in the young wizard's latest adventure.
of the UK's leading cinema chains, Vue, is issuing its staff
hi-tech night vision goggles to seek out and remove any cinema-goer
making sneaky and illegal recordings of the just-released blockbuster.
are mainly to prevent the Harry Potter film being copied and
ending up on the net," one London cinema manager said. "We've
never caught anyone copying films here and we've had no problems
as yet with Potter, but we are keeping a close eye on the audiences.
These new goggles are extremely effective - they don't give off
any light, so the customers can't see you using them."
that cinema staff are concentrating their surveillance on snogging
back-row couples remain unconfirmed.
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