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  • London’s largest circles

    Where are London’s largest circles?The Circle line is famously not a circle, indeed has never been vaguely circular in shape. So where in London are the largest genuine geometric circles? I’ve been to investigate four whoppers, and you can decide for yourself which is the biggest.1. The Millennium Dome (diameter 320m-380m) [map]The largest circular object in London might be the Millennium Dome, or as it’s known these days The O2. It was built for the Millennium, obviously, and thrown up on a former gasworks in two years flat. Technically it’s not a dome, more a tent (but then technically it’s not an oxygen molecule either, but this hasn’t stopped the branding rights being sold for £185m). The teflon roof is 52m high at its loftiest point, representing the number of weeks in a year, and is supported by 12 steel masts (representing months). Officially it’s 365m in diameter, to match the number of days in a year, but I own a 200-page coffee-table book about the construction of the […]

  • Certainty and doubt

    Facts are easy. Giraffes have long necks. Eleven is a prime number. The Sun is a star. But when faced with an opinion or assertion, I wonder where you fit along this scale.CERTAINTY         DOUBTIf the answer is ‘it depends’, you’re probably somewhere in the middle. I’m up the grey end.Some people live very certain lives. They know what they like, they know what they believe, and they have very fixed views on right or wrong. Other people are less sure.If you’re trying to work out what to have for dinner or how to run the country, being a decisive person is a useful trait. But living in a black and white world can also have significant downsides, for example when judging others or making a decision with wider implications.We draw conclusions about the world around us all the time. We react to items in the news, draw inferences from social media, interpret what others say and make assumptions about human behaviour. For some of us our reaction […]

  • 30 more old things I have kept

    30 things stashed in an old LBC Radio (261) bag dating back to when I was in the Sixth Form1) Carbon copy receipt for one two-hour driving lesson, cost £132) Mr Fussy’s Note Book, containing field notes from Geography Field Trip to Cader Idris3) Full colour mail-order brochure for new Sinclair ZX Spectrum (8 colours, BEEP command with variable pitch and duration, high resolution 256×192, “Massive 16K RAM”) 4) Punched computer card, on which I scribbled down the Top 40 chart for 20th July 1982 during the Gary Davies show (1 Irene Cara, 2 Trio, 3 Steve Miller Band)5) HF Holidays Conistonwater Centre Programme 1982 (Week Two – Fairfield, Scafell, Helvellyn, Swirl How)6) Certificate awarded by BBC Television for successfully following the Puzzle Trail to the Treasure7) A letter from Jan (written on the back of a Peppermint Aero wrapper, the back of a Bournville Dark wrapper and the inside of a box of Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles)8) Day-by-day plan for a week’s Youth Hostelling in the […]

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  • Mike Solomon obituary
    by Adam Fagan on Feb 26 at 12:20 pm

    My friend Mike Solomon, who has died aged 52 of cancer, was a clinical psychologist at the Tavistock clinic in London, working with children and young people with social, emotional and mental health problems.He thrived on building relationships and was often to be found having a clinical “session” with young people on a football pitch or at a bus stop. Continue reading…

  • You can’t level up England without real devolution | Luke Raikes
    by Luke Raikes on Feb 26 at 8:00 am

    Allowing decisions to be taken locally gives poorer areas a better chance of prosperityAt the moment “levelling up” is just a slogan, used by government ministers to promote regional growth and devolution in positive, albeit vague, terms. But the government can give it meaning by giving power to people who know what’s best for their towns and cities across England.The UK is both the most regionally divided and the most centralised country in the developed world. Centralisation has meant the Treasury continually stimulates London’s economy with yet more transport investment. But by treating London as the “engine” of the economy, the Treasury actually overlooks the people who call the capital their home – housing costs drive up poverty and inequality in London to the highest levels in the country. Related: Inequality in the north of England is about far more than race | Kenan Malik Continue reading…

  • Combustible cladding: protesters call on Boris Johnson to end crisis
    by Robert Booth on Feb 25 at 5:20 pm

    Owners of apartments wrapped in dangerous cladding urge PM to release billions in fundingOwners of high-rise apartments wrapped in combustible cladding have demonstrated in Westminster to demand Boris Johnson release billions of pounds to end a national fire safety crisis that continues nearly 1,000 days after the Grenfell Tower disaster.Families with young children, retirees and working couples from tower blocks in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton and Ipswich were among more than 100 residents who travelled to London to rally on Tuesday for an end to their “living nightmare” by announcing a bailout in next month’s budget. Continue reading…

  • Julian Assange was ‘handcuffed 11 times and stripped naked’
    by Ben Quinn on Feb 25 at 4:57 pm

    WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers complain of interference after first day of extradition hearingJulian Assange was handcuffed 11 times, stripped naked twice and had his case files confiscated after the first day of his extradition hearing, according to his lawyers, who complained of interference in his ability to take part.Their appeal to the judge overseeing the trial at Woolwich crown court in south-east London was also supported by legal counsel for the US government, who said it was essential the WikiLeaks founder be given a fair trial. Related: Amid the din, Julian Assange struggles to hear case against him Continue reading…

  • Nicholas Burton: ‘I only want to get to the truth about the Grenfell Tower fire’
    by Alison Benjamin on Feb 25 at 1:00 pm

    A survivor, featured in a film released in the UK this week, says that, for him, justice is not about sending people to jailNicholas Burton, 52, is a survivor of the Grenfell Tower fire. He and his wife, Pily, were rescued from their 19th-floor flat on 14 June 2017, but she never really recovered and, following a stroke seven months later, became the last of 72 people to die as a result of the disaster.“I’ll fight with everything I’ve got” to get justice for the Grenfell victims, says Burton in a documentary film, Push, about the global housing crisis, released this week in the UK. In it, he talks about being proud to have grown up in North Kensington among a community of all faiths and colours. “But as it became trendy, wealthy people bought up properties as a fantastic investment and the area changed,” he says.There are so many documents showing failings, after failings, after failings, and the arrogance of professionals and what they thought about our community Related: Push review – a whirlwind tour of rocketing rents and personal tragedy Related: Grenfell Tower public inquiry delayed due to witnesses’ demands Continue reading…

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