Category Archives: blog news

Sir Christopher Kelly Report

 Our favourite satirist, Dungeekin, back in the ring with The (Grace) Kelly Report

The (Grace) Kelly Report

So, Dear Reader, today will see Doctor Kelly lance the festering boil that is the MP’s expenses scandal. In his honour, and with the enjoyable spectacle of MPs losing their gravy train ahead, I thought we should have a little song.

[spoken]
I wanna talk to you!
The last time we talked Mr. Kelly you reduced my John Lewis list!
I promise you that won’t happen again!

You tried to redact them,
Tried to conceal them behind spin and lies,
Dishonest and dirty,
Grasping and greedy,
Now it’s you we despise,
The totals are awesome,
Really it’s loathsome,
How you milked us dry!
Why were you greedy?
Living the high life on the cash we supply?

It’s time for the verdict of Kelly, (Oooo)
He says your expenses were bad, (Aaaagh)
The size of your claims were just silly, (Mmmmm)
Your sense of entitlement’s mad!

We paid for your house,
Paid for your booze,
For you to watch porn on Sky!
You were deceitful,
You were just venal,
Claiming for anything you like!
Don’t wanna be mean,
But you were obscene,
Claiming for bath plugs and more!
Why were you greedy?
Why were you greedy?
Why keep on claiming for more?

 

Our Rich Literary History

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
Samuel Johnson

Boswell and Johnson were discussing whether or not Boswell’s affection for London would wear thin should he choose to live there, as opposed to the zest he felt on his occasional visits. (Boswell lived in Scotland, and visited only periodically. Some people are surprised to learn that Boswell and Johnson were far from inseparable over the last twenty years of Johnson’s life, the period Boswell knew him.)

This discussion happened on September 20, 1777, and Johnson, someone who hated to spend time alone, was always going out and enjoying what London had to offer.

Now Boris Johnson as Mayor has been promoting historical events in the capital such as:

Trafalgar Square a brief history  

History Brought to Life weekend

Black History Season

 

Not to be outdone, Gotham Girl takes a cross-disciplinary approach with both fiction and non-fiction highlighting some interesting historical and cultural comparisons between London and New York 

  

I’ve recently been re-reading “Here Is New York” an essay by E.B. White (which I cannot recommend highly enough). It’s a 55-page– well, love letter of sorts – written during the summer of 1949 and is considered by many (including me) to be one of the ten best books ever written about the city. I’m not sure what the London equivalent would be… Peter Ackroyd’s London: A Biography maybe? Much bigger than White’s piece and not so much a love letter as it is a collection of love letters. What do you all think?

I’m not suggesting that a single book could do justice to the sweeping scope that is London. Nor do I suggest that White’s piece is, by any means, a complete portrait of New York. You’d need a large bookcase of books to embody a subject as multi-layered and robust as London or New York. More likely, you’d need a whole library.

Luckily, I have plenty of shelf space because I “travel” to London and through New York via books quite a lot and it is travel almost without limits. You can get to know either city by getting to know about the people who left their mark centuries ago or who are leaving their mark now. You can examine the buildings and monuments that dot the city landscapes as well as those that have disappeared. You can read about the industries and social movements that drive the cities through cycles of growth and ruin. Books are, in this way, a handy-sized sort of TARDIS.

Do not think, however, that you must limit yourself to non-fiction when going on these page-turning adventures. Not at all. I read my share of non-fiction and I have a special fondness for biography but fiction can also provide views and (often unexpected) insights into the current and historical worlds of London and New York.

Continue reading Our Rich Literary History

Mayor of Rio de Janeiro welcomed by our Mayor in London

Mayor welcomes Olympic winning Mayor of Rio to London

BJ and Rio MayorOlympic winning city Rio received some top tips on staging the Games from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson, during a visit to City Hall by Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes.

Boris Johnson congratulated Mayor Paes on Rio’s historic victory in winning the race to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and offered to share London’s experiences so far on the road to 2012. Mayor Paes was keen to discuss potential collaborations and developing strong ties as Rio de Janeiro begins the work on hosting the Games.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

“It’s great to experience the excitement of a city that is at the beginning of the journey that London and the UK set out on four years ago. I can assure the Mayor and his team that it will often be nerve racking, but it is a fantastic experience full of opportunities for the host city and its people. Today gave us the chance, as Mayors of two great world cities, to commit to building a strong and mutually beneficial relationship, which goes beyond the shared interests of the London and Rio Games.”

Following their meeting, Mayor Paes and his team participated in an Olympic workshop hosted by City Hall’s Olympics Team and led by the Mayor’s Olympics Advisor, Neale Coleman. The Rio delegation used the opportunity to discuss with the Mayor of London’s staff how they managed the next stages of planning after winning the Olympic bid in 2005.

See the City Hall website for more info

Arts and Culture in the Metropolis

Tower of London
Tower of London

The Mayor’s Priorities for Culture 2009-12.  See the document here for his vision on maintaining London’s position as a world centre of cultural excellence.

For an another viewpoint let’s turn to Gotham Girl’s analysis of transatlantic museum visiting.

The British Museum wallops the Met in ancient civilizations

The Elgin Marbles – that is a proper test of wills

The Tate Modern is notably NOT just a storage space 

I love museums. I live only a short walk from Museum Mile here in Manhattan so museums figure prominently in my leisure schedule at home as well as abroad.

Few places in New York offer better “people watching” than the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met for short). Few places in New York offer more beautiful views than the roof of the Met.

I don’t think the front of the British Museum offers quite the same experience.

great_hall Met
Metroplitan Museum of Art

At the Met, I can curl up with a book in Engelhard Court. I frequently head to the Temple of Dendur to visit with friends. We can – and do – even enjoy lunch or drinks now that they’ve reclaimed the first floor for the Greek and Roman galleries and the eateries have had to move downstairs. This move hasn’t done much for the Greek and Roman collections but it has improved the “grab a bite of lunch” experience at the Met tenfold.

Still, museums are, on many levels, the sum of the collections and much as I love the Met as a whole, certain galleries don’t fare very well when compared to their British Museum counterparts. The British Museum wallops the Met in ancient civilizations. The Greek and Roman collection of the Met is a bit “meh” – well, a lot “meh.” The Temple of Dendur, aside, their Egyptian collection isn’t much better and is displayed abysmally. As for controversial artifacts – the Met pales in comparison. Sure, Turkey went after the Metropolitan about the Lydian Horde but the Met returned it so – in a mere six or so years – that was that. The Elgin Marbles – that is a proper test of wills. Impressive.  Oh and here’s a handy tip – don’t make remarks on how “liberated” the marbles look within earshot of guards. Goodness, how that man glared. Still, it wasn’t as bad as the time at Westminster Abbey when I stomped on Thomas Hardy’s name in Poet’s Corner. Still, that’s another story for another time (and in my defense I think MOST people would like to stomp on Thomas Hardy).

Continue reading Arts and Culture in the Metropolis

Clean air in the Capital and the problem of Traffic

The Mayor has pledged to clean up the capital’s air, to improve the health of Londoners and enhance our quality of life.   He also called on Government to back the plan with adequate policy and financial support.  Over the coming months he will discuss with government funding for measures included in this strategy as well as developing a shared approach to improve air quality in the capital.

Read more about this draft document ‘Clearing the Air’.

Turning to transport systems, see here for praise for London’s underground system yesterday when the new chief of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority said:   “he hoped to meet customers’ expectations, promised an action plan the end of his first 100 days, and added, “New Yorkers should be able to expect the same type of customer experience riders enjoy in London“—whose transportation system he worked for between 2001-2006—’with accurate arrival information and modern fare technology.’  Hear that, New Yorkers—no more Underground envy!”

New Yorker to the bone, Gotham Girl, now takes us on a trip around London and New York to provide further food for thought on transport systems and the problems of traffic in particular.  She prefers to eschew all modes of transport and wander about the capital on foot.

Over to you, Gotham Girl!

Gotham GalNYC and London are both great but one thing I dislike intensely about both? Traffic. Traffic isn’t unique to these two cities (Let’s all be thankful we don’t drive in São Paulo) but only one – London – seems to have faced up to it.

London traffic is no walk in the park but at least London had the balls to do something about it. Love it, hate it, call it the work of the devil or the best thing since sliced bread – debating the congestion charge is never dull. Some see eliminating the Western extension as cause for celebration while the idea causes economic-heartburn in others. The idea is hotly argued. Agreement may never be reached but the point remains – a problem was identified and action was taken.

Action good. Inaction bad. 

Everyone in NYC knows the city has reached a crisis point but no one seems ready to do anything about it. Mayor Bloomberg proposed a congestion charge for central Manhattan, where traffic is the worst. Opposition came fast and furious. Never have I heard such ungodly kvetching. You’d have thought he was suggesting spit-roasting babies. I really wanted Bloomberg to ignore them and carry on anyway. He’d rammed the smoking ban through and dissolved mayoral term limits without turning a hair. For some reason in this case however, he backed down. Odd and quite unlike him.

  Continue reading Clean air in the Capital and the problem of Traffic

Conservative Party Conference 2009

TimAs seen from the Blue Room (#cpc09 for twitter)

Expectations and Aspirations for Conservative Party Conference 2009 

I am no longer a ‘noob’, having lost my conference virginity at last year’s conference, although I am far from being an old timer just yet either! So I thought I’d share a few thoughts before, during and after conference for newbies and veterans alike since Party Conference is THE major event for any political aficionado anorak like myself, and the wonderful thing about conference is the variety of interesting people to meet.

Firstly, I should say what a pleasure it is to write for Boris’s blog, particularly since Boris has been so pivotal to my political journey, albeit short and as yet unglamorous! I watched with glee as Boris was appointed mayoral candidate, glad that we finally had a candidate with oudles of character and unlimited opinions. I started off handing out flyers, taxi receipts and oyster card holders and met similarly enthused Boris loving activists. Like me, this was the first time many had been activists, inspired by Boris. Towards the end of the campaign we were whizzing around London suburbs as the advance team, preparing the ground for the imminent arrival of the blonde one and I was lucky enough to be invited to the election night party. After which I was addicted to politics and determined to help fight for change. So off I schlepped to my first conference in 2008.

Going to party conference is akin to a chocoholic being invited to a planet of chocolate. From the moment you arrive you are surrounded by fascinating people, enthralling subjects and you feel the force, the sense of being connected. The conference consists of literally hundreds of fringe debates on every conceivable subject, to suit every interest and MPs walk amongst us, like A-list celebrities on the red carpet, not to mention the recognisable faces of the political media. 

Even though I knew no-one at first, I soon found myself chatting to people who came from all over the country, from all sorts of backgrounds and of all ages. Before I left, one of my friends had snarkily snorted “you be the only person there under 50”, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of people I saw and meet were under 50 and those who I met over 50 were just as warm, entertaining and energetic. My first dilemma was trying to decide between countless clashes on the fringe, finding rooms and scurrying back to the main hall for the really interesting speeches. Of course last year, Boris was one of the first big speakers on the main stage, still relatively fresh from his recent win. Conference listened in awe. I found it reasonably easy to get a great seat for most of the speeches, although I must admit that I found a couple of sneaky ways to get a good view last year that I couldn’t possibly share. One by one I ticked off my Panini stickeralbum of shadow cabinet ministers; Grant Shapps, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne and then the hastily rescheduled speech on the economy from Cameron gave me almost a full house.

Timforchange will be blogging and live-tweeting daily from party conference. Timforchange is a conservative activist based in Surrey. Join Tim and other conservative activists, blog, comment and find out about the latest events on www.theblueroomforum.com or if you’re a progressive conservative www.brightblueonline.com and follow him on twitter @timforchange.

Continue reading Conservative Party Conference 2009

London Street Food

Street food is more than just a tasty morsel eaten on the run. It’s great food plus the thrill of the hunt … It’s the absolute bliss of realizing you’ve reached the corner of Broadway and 17th just as the Wafels & Dinges truck has pulled up. If you think ‘bliss’ is laying it on a bit thick, this is because you have not had a dessert waffle

Hungry in London?  we recommend Daddy Donkey Mexican Grill

Gotham GalGotham Girl is back

 

 

 

The world teems with street food. Cities like Bangkok, Jaffa, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City have street food cultures so expansive, so bursting with variety, and so colorful, it’s hard to find the words. Therefore, I won’t. Besides, that is not my brief.

I’m here to look at how New York and London stack up when viewed through the ‘street food culture’ lens. And honestly? They aren’t. Yes, both offer food you can eat on the street so technically speaking, they both have street food but here the similarity ends.

NYC’s street food scene is out on the street, on the move, and now a sizzling presence online. It’s dessert_waffle1evolving so fast that it’s hard to keep up. One day it was just hot dogs in front of midtown office buildings or tourist traps. Suddenly, Mexican food abounded at the Red Hook Ball Fields. Next thing you know, we’re grabbing everything from waffles to dumplings to sopapillas from carts, trucks – even kitted-out bicycles – in almost any neighborhood in town.

London’s street food scene is built around the market stalls and in places where those stalls have traditionally always been found. I’m not saying that you couldn’t grab something fast and extremely yummy during a stroll through London’s markets. Just that in order to find something fast and yummy to eat on that stroll, you may need a market. That’s fine with me. I love those markets. We don’t have as many well-established or robust ones in the U.S. as you have elsewhere in the world and except for a handful of them, we don’t do them as well. Luckily, NYC has the excellent Union Square Green Market, which is always a treat. Therefore, it’s not surprising that I often make time on my trips to get over to at least one or two London markets.

I will now commit tourism sacrilege. I don’t particularly care for Portobello. I was neither overwhelmed nor under-whelmed. I was merely whelmed – by the market generally and by the food stalls there. I told you – sacrilege. On the other hand, I have very fond memories of a savory crepe-type thing enjoyed at Borough Market and a notably delicious falafel during a Sunday wander around Brick Lane. So, kudos on the market stalls for their culinary creations. Let us also acknowledge that there are some food carts in London but they seem to offer mostly roasted nuts, hot dogs and an occasional ice cream. Anything else is a notable exception. Speaking of notable exceptions, I have read about a “burrito mobile” called Daddy Donkey, found mostly in and about Leather Lane Market. They claim authentic Mexican cuisine. Has anyone tried it? I don’t care as much about its authenticity as much as whether it tastes any good. I’d be interested to hear – because the further away I got from Texas in my life, the sadder and sadder the Mexican food offerings seem to get.

Continue reading London Street Food

Gotham Girl comes to London

In a series of posts we will hear the views, insights and amusing tales of this inspired longtime Boris supporter who jumps between New York and London at frequent intervals:  Downtown Gotham Girl.

No doubt Gotham Girl would understand Boris when he recently opened London Fashion Week and described London as “the greatest city on earth”.

Gotham Gal
Gotham Girl

I’ve spent time in both New York and London. Like so many others before me, I’ve noticed that the cities have much in common. However, I think the interesting stories lie in how each city manages things – for good or bad – in their own way.

 Travel

‘New York vs. London’ is popular but inaccurate. It’s not ‘vs.’ It’s not even ‘or.’  It is very much ‘and’.  There is New York and there is London.

Then there is the act of traveling between the two.

I do it rather a lot and travel between the two cities has been very much on my mind lately — partially because I’m overdue for a trip and partially because Boris was in New York recently to meet with Mayor Bloomberg and boost tourism between the two cities. check this out for travel related information. I am all for that idea. In fact, I have done more than my part to boost travel between two of my favorite cities, for years – hosting London-based friends by the planeload, playing tourist myself in London year after year.

One of my favorite parts of the trip – regardless of direction – is that wonderful moment when I am confronted with THE QUESTION.

No, not: “Will the taxi line be ungodly?” – a New York-only question since London does a far better job with trains to and from the airports. Nor is it: “Where will I find a decent Dover sole now that Manzi’s is closed?” though that question still looms large now that Manzi’s is closed.

No, THE QUESTION is “Business or pleasure?”

Continue reading Gotham Girl comes to London

Congestion Charge Extension to be removed

The axe will fall on the Western Extension Zone

You may have heard the scurrilous rumour that I have reneged on my promise to remove the Western Extension of the congestion charge.

I am blogging about this now to tell you that is emphatically not true.

When I was elected, I promised to give Londoners the consultation they never got. Londoners expressed the overwhelming view that it should be removed, and I promised to honour that judgement. I maintain that promise today, and to make it absolutely crystal clear; we will be removing the Western Extension next year.

We have to jump through a number of tedious bureaucratic hoops before the axe can fall, but fall it will. The extended zone will be no more. It will be an ex-zone, the area formerly known as. It will be a dead zone!

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