Winner of the Red Pepper Young Writers Competition Jem Stein is from a cycling city – students and townies were spinning wheels in Oxford for decades before amateur veloists stormed London – and he and his brothers grew up on bikes. But cycling mania has its detritus: a jam of jilted rides, slipped chains and flat tyres. There are so many discarded bicycles in Oxford that the city regularly conducts culls, rounding up errant cycles like two‑wheeled badgers and ushering them on to an afterlife as scrap metal. London has its own lost bicycle problem now. Stolen and recovered wheels are backing up in police stations across the city and most of them will be eventually scrapped. Read more.
SUBURBAN LIVING IS UNSUSTAINABLE AND INCREASINGLY UNPOPULAR. SO WHY IS A NEW GENERATION OF DISTANT DORMITORY TOWNS THE GO-TO SOLUTION FOR LONDON’S HOUSING CRUNCH? London Student, March 11, 2014 Harlow was sparkling and cosily utopian when it was first built from scratch in west Essex fields. A new-fangled town was just what the public wanted in 1947 – a futurism that rooted itself in the English countryside and bridled all the machinery of war to give everyone a new kitchen and their own car. The new town boasted Britain’s first pedestrianised shopping district; its first residential tower block; the comfortable, familial abstraction of a dozen Henry Moore sculptures; and a system of burrowed subways that could have appeased a colony of rodents. Panorama caught a group of London transplants and visitors blinking in the main square in 1956: a father from Peckham blinked like he’d never seen daylight so bright before. He didn’t live there, but he wished he did because Harlow was so “modern and clean with plenty of amenities for children”. Harlow was “pram town” then, so named for its superfecundity (its birthrate was three times the national average in the middle of the century) and for the crowds […]
London Student, 17 February 2014, American student Francesco Hounye had been in the United Kingdom for only three days when he was attacked on Brick Lane just past midnight on 17 June 2013. The CCTV footage was unsettling: Hounye was assaulted by five men, allegedly for not being ‘local.’ They smashed the bottle he was holding against his face and then pursued him across the street, kicking and punching him before fleeing. Hounye was rushed to Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, and treated there for deep slash wounds to his head and right ear with more than two-dozen stitches. One arrest was later made, but Hounye, now with permanent facial scarring and too afraid to venture out in London alone, was left questioning his future in the UK. “I am a visitor… and was considering continuing my studies here but this incident has made me think twice,” he told the press in October. Read more at London Student.
London Student, November 18, 2013 Anderson House is slated to be razed: initial notices to tenants said by 1st April 2014, but these manufactured regenerations operate on erratic timetables. Ione, 27, moved here last October, months after the building’s fate was decided, and it’s come to feel like home. Her third-floor maisonette is a mid-century relic, a tidy allotment of middle class aspiration tucked into in a row with two dozen others. It’s slowly crumbling, and the kitchen is a cubbyhole – today’s upwardly mobile white goods look elephantine in there – but Ione has splashed bright paint around, tacked art to the walls, and had the leak in the roof fixed. Her neighbours provided screwdrivers and DIY guidance; they have a lively Google Group where they advertise local volunteering opportunities and coordinate cocktail crawls through the building. Read more at London Student or see PDF here.
The stigma and bureaucracy of ‘hidden’ health issues London Student, November 1, 2013 Few people can immediately tell that Sonia Hunter, a third year at SOAS, is ill, but chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia affect her “every moment of every day.” The only external signs of her disability are a slow gait and sometimes a walk like she’s twisted her ankle, but if she looks healthy and able-bodied to other people, her disability “is always visible and present” to her. CFS causes persistent exhaustion, unrelieved by sleep or rest, and difficulty with concentration and complex thinking, and the related fibromyalgia produces widespread pain and extreme sensitivity throughout the body. Read more at London Student.
Truthout, 14 October, 2013 In the brutal auditioning rounds of new fall television, Michael J. Fox is the sentimental favorite – the underdog with a stacked deck and a 30-year NBC pedigree. Fox’s new eponymous half-hour sitcom has a plum Thursday night slot, a cast poached from the best dramas of the decade (The Wire’s Wendell Pierce and Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt), and a shotgun season commitment from the network. The show is a fitting welcome back party for a beloved sitcom veteran, and a feel-good show could go a long way to stripping the stigma from Fox’s disease. Read more at Truthout
London Student, 7 October 2013 “I saw him again a few weeks ago at a club. I was very uncomfortable, and Stephen acted like everything was normal. Clearly he doesn’t know that what he did was wrong. That’s how normalised it is. He thought it was harmless flirting.” For Melissa (names have been changed), her last encounter with Stephen, on New Year’s Eve, was anything but harmless. Stephen, a fellow student at King’s and friend of her friends, singled her out after she became visibly drunk at a house party in Camden. His advances started casually – “he’s touchy-feely with a lot of people,” Melissa’s friend said – but they made Melissa uncomfortable and escalated as she became drunker. He slipped his arm around her shoulder, stroked her arm, and told her repeatedly how good-looking she was. At first Melissa protested, telling him she had a boyfriend and at one point hiding in the bathroom to avoid him, but Stephen was persistent. “You should be used to this, a pretty girl like you,” he said. Later he trailed her to the couch and pushed her head into his lap. He didn’t unzip his trousers, but it was still “overtly sexual” and […]
London Student, September 18, 2013 Overseas postgrads are our educational system’s golden geese: pumped for high tuition fees and then sacrificed for xenophobic grandstanding. Who will fill seats – and coffers – when they leave? At home in California, Amanda Matthews is putting the finishing touches to a master’s dissertation, the capstone of an intensive year of medical and Enlightenment history and British Isles travel at King’s College. History is “just a hobby,” she says, and her master’s garnish for her CV, but she’s certain it will be a springboard to a stable career in a shrunken U.S. economy. She saved for two years, travelled 4,000 miles, spent £15,000 on fees, and logged hundreds of hours at the British Library on that bet. Read more at London Student.
The AV Club, August 11, 2011. (No longer on their website after a website overhaul that eliminated all local interest content. It can be resurrected through the Wayback Machine.) For a Bromley boy, alien immigrant, and Goblin King, David Bowie sure does like Philadelphia. We already paid tribute to him in July for the recording of David Live—the musical wake at the end of his skeleton-march Diamond Dogs tour—at the Tower Theater. But Bowie, a quick-change artist cycling from alien trans-ient to Soul Train conductor in one record spin, transformed so radically in the ’70s that we don’t feel we’re repeating ourselves by mentioning him again. The Bowie who croaked and rattled through David Live was hardly the Bowie who arrived at Philly’s Sigma Sound on Aug. 11, 1974 to record the songs that would become Young Americans. He was still otherworldly, flame-haired, and strung out into another universe, though not yet down the rabbit hole of pool exorcisms and urine preservation. He’d tired of the apocalyptic mythology, cut-up lyrics, and spandex jumpsuits of his previous rock incarnations—Ziggy Stardust, his American cousin Aladdin Sane, and their Orwellian friend Halloween Jack. At Sigma Sound Studios at 12th and Race, the studio of Gamble and Huff’s then-current Philadelphia Soul, Bowie would fashion himself a […]
The AV Club, August 6, 2011 (no longer on their website due to overhaul) August is the traditional dumping ground for worthless movies–long-shelved rom-coms and schlocky horror feasts dumped on audiences when they’re too heat-dazed and CGI-blinded to notice. And in Philly, apparently, August is the resting place of musical misery. We can accept differences in musical taste (keep on rocking out to the Allman Brothers, Dad) but we just can’t take artists who screw with fans, blab to the press about romantic conquests, and project a general air of self-important sleaziness. In an industry of studied debauchery and cultivated “bad boy” images, it takes a lot to stand out for douchiness. But these five artists or bands somehow manage it. Here’s a list of the musical dirtbags who are coming–or planned to come before melting down in a collective, vomit-splattered hissy fit–to our fine city (or rather, most to Camden, take that as you will) this August. Adam Levine (and Maroon 5) First up is Adam Levine, who continues to ride the train of Songs About Jane‘s 2003 success all the way to the Susquehanna Bank Center tonight. Levine is a perverse crossbreed of Conor Oberst and The Situation who somehow multiplies […]