Incoming stolen quota photo opportunity from


Very pretty – one of my favourite building on the London skyline. I did some of my Masters degree right underneath it. Interestingly, when it was built in the early 1960’s, as part of the British Government’s new microwave communications network, the UK was in the middle of the Cold War. The (then) Post Office Tower was designed as a cylinder, rather than a block simply because it had been noted that a greater number of cylindrical buildings survived the nuclear blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was hoped that if (or when) the Ruskies bombed London, the tower might survive, and with it, the all important communications network.

It may well have survived that, if it had ever happened, but it infamously fell foul of Twinkle, the giant kitten.

Yes. Kittens were huge (literally) in popular culture, even before the internet was around. And if Brian reads this before the end of the day, he’s got a lovely Feline Friday tie-in opportunity with his post from yesterday.

Seafret busking in London tomorrow

It’s one of those “Dammit. Why am I here, not there?” moments.

But yes, Bridlington acoustic pop duo Seafret (you may remember them from such posts as Seafret – Oceans and Atlantis) are playing 4 venues in the Big Smoke tomorrow (Friday 21st August) afternoon:


Says their Facebook page:

Who’s going to join us when we hit the streets of London on Friday? We’ll be busking in Covent Garden at 12.00, Trafalgar Square at 14.00, Denmark Street at 16.00 and Southbank Centre at 18.00.

Bit of a trip for me, sadly, but if you’re lucky enough to be in London and have the time to spare, they’re well worth a listen. Say hi from me.

Is this an amazing bar or not?

I can’t decide.

At the new Reserve Bar Stock Exchange in London’s “Square Mile” financial district, drink prices swing up and down according to supply and demand, sending thirsty city workers on a roller-coaster ride in the hunt for the best priced bender.

With its real-time exchange screens, rapidly fluctuating prices and secondary markets, it has the feel of a trading floor, but without the nerving risk of a market tumble. The worst-case scenario — or best, if you will — occurs when drink quotes climb too rapidly, triggering a “market crash.” This means cheap booze all around: The market plunges between 35% to 40%, offering drinks well below the intraday lows.

Yes, really. The drinks’ prices behave like stocks on the local exchange, responding live to the demand in the bar. There’s even an app so you can check prices during the day and even order your drinks while you’re there, locking the prices at their current level, without having to go to rush the bar.

But that “market crash” seems to be the big draw:

When the market crashes, a loud siren is played and customers are notified on their phones as well. A market crash can lower prices all the way to their lowest prices in the evening. Be prepared because when that market crashes, everyone begin to order their drinks to take full advantage of the low prices.

Looking at the prices, though, it’s going to need a great depression before any visiting Saffa can get sloshed. With a shot of Bacardi going for R91 and the Tanquary for your G&T trading at R151.50 (eina!), you’re going to have to have done well at playing the real stock market to enjoy your evening out.

As a concept, I think this would be massive fun for a night out with a group of friends. But there are certain things that might put me off:

A guy recently bought 10 shots and then went down to another table to try to sell them with a 50 pence profit. So, in that sense, there is a secondary market.

Assuming he was successful, that profit is only just going to buy him a Bailey’s. Desperation, much?

There’s also the worry that the bar is right in the middle of the financial district in the City of London and will therefore be filled with real stockbrokers. Eww.

So in answer to my own question: in terms of concept, yes; in terms of clientèle, probably not.

Leaf it out

Quote of the day from Brian Micklethwait of infamy:

I hate leaves. All over London there are great views, totally ruined by leaves.

Ah yes, leaves: the bane of any urban photographer.

But if Brian is struggling with leaves, then it means that he’s visiting places in London with trees (thanks Sherlock). And trees are a great sign that a suburb is doing well. This 2012 post even asserted that you could “spot income inequality from space”, simply by observing the number of trees in any given suburb.

Thus, the answer seems fairly clear – rather choose to go somewhere really, really dodgy to take photographs of London’s Big Things. The dodgier the better, I’d assume. Of course, there are other things to take into account when you’re avoiding trees in this way.  The higher crime rate and the greater chance of being mugged, for example.
But at least when someone buys your camera in the local Cash Converters later in the week, none of the buildings in the photos will be obscured by foliage.

Silver lining and all that…

Second Language London

I know – another London post. But this is interesting and kind of fun: a tube map with the second most common languages (after English, innit) spoken at each stop.

Tube map14FINAL_opt

You’ll need to click it to make it bigger.

A few things struck me immediately: the huge number of Bengali speakers in East London (the size of the dots relates to the percentage of speakers of that language). Perhaps unsurprisingly,Bengali is the second most spkoen language in London overall.
Also, the way that the groups stick together: that brown diagnonal of Lithuanians in the South East, equally, the dark orange of Punjabi in the South West and the light pink of Gujarati in the North West.

Afrikaans makes an impact too – in dark green, right at the top of the Northern line: Colindale, Burnt Oak and Edgware.

UPDATE: A beagle-eyed reader on Facebook notes that I may have got my Romanian and Afrikaans mixed up. This is always hapeening to me and has led to many unfortunate incidents here in SA (although, they are nothing, NOTHING! compared to my struggles on that recent trip to Bucharest).
A more detailed look at the map reveals that she’s almost certainly correct.

Two points arise from this:

1. The linguistic diversity of London is such that the researchers ran out of different colours to use, and
2. Well, where’s the Afrikaans then?

It took me a while, but I got there in the end – the penultimate stop eastbound on the central line: Theydon Bois. No, I’d never heard of it before, either, but I’m not sure how I’d missed it, given that it’s THE major large residential village of choice at the junction of the M11 and M25. Claim to fame-tastic.


When I knew Saffas in London, it was all Acton and Putney – now replaced by Arabic and French. There are a lot of French speakers in London, which, as the cartographers point out, might include French speakers from North and Central Africa as well, although:

Since London is now the sixth biggest French city and has a resident member of the National Assembly to represent expatriates, it is a fair bet that many are from France

Linguistic diversity is rampant too:

Around Turnpike Lane 16 languages are spoken by more than one per cent of the population, topped by Polish at 6.7 per cent.

More details here.