Harry’s Here

At midnight the latest Harry Potter book went on sale.

Thank goodness. At midnight the latest Harry Potter book went on sale. For the last six months – almost every time I have purchased anything in one of the major book stores in London – I have been asked if I would like to reserve a copy. The answer is always no. In recent weeks it’s started to get irritating. I don’t want to pre-order Harry Potter nor do I want an oversized chocolate bar at half price because I was buying a magazine. Just sell me the magazine, please!

Anyway, there’s more on this at BBC News or you can visit the UK Publisher’s site or, I guess, you could go and see what J. K. Rowling has to say about it (apart from thanks for all the cash).

Two Minutes Silence

At 12 noon the bus turning the corner in front us stopped and the driver turned the engine off, right across the junction.

Just before 12 noon today my colleagues and I walked onto the London street outside the Holborn office where we work. It was a bright, hot sunny day in Central London. The kind of day that has you sweating within moments of being on the street. When we reached street level we walked into a crowd of people that had come from the buildings all around. These were office workers whose desks are probably just metres from mine but I don’t see them. I probably walk past them most days as I approach the door to the office but I just don’t see them. Today, we stood crowded onto the street together.

At 12 noon the bus turning the corner in front us stopped and the driver turned the engine off, right across the junction. The taxi at the traffic lights opposite didn’t move when the light turned green and the cyclist near him didn’t try and jump the red light. Most of the pedestrians who were walking stopped.

A silence descended upon London. Not the silence usually associated with a city. A city’s silence is usually punctuated by horns and alarms, by mobile ‘phones ringing or engines passing. No, this silence was eerily silent but it was silent.

And we bowed our heads to remember.

It was a moment when this huge, diverse city that I call home, was united in thought. It’s a moment I don’t think anybody who was there will forget.

A Few Moments Of Reflection

the olympics are coming to london!Earlier: Wow

Now: Wow. Wow.

I am speechless and excited right now. I still think it would be fantastic for London but it’s also brilliant for the rest of the UK. The bid team did a brilliant job. Seb Coe‘s made himself a hero for a second time. Roll on 2012.

Elsewhere: Anna celebrates too
Elsewhere: Awarded to the city of …
Elsewhere: Tube goes all Olympic

Preliminary Vote

Hold Your Breath …

In all the excitement I had missed the fact there was a preliminary vote and we weren’t certain of making it this far:

There are a few gasps in the press room as Madrid exits the vote, as some Spaniards at the back had earlier given some noisy support during its bid presentation. We now have the London-Paris finale that the whispers in the past few hours had indicated [source].

Aggghh … the tension.

What Have You Done Today?

I have two countdowns on the go right now.

Today is the day for one of those countdowns to reach 00:00:00.

Rachel Stevens and Melanie C will be performing live in Trafalgar Square later today (see here) as we wait to find out the result of the race to host the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Watch the London2012 videos and keep your fingers crossed for us. I’ll be updating later.

The G8 Summitt

I didn’t watch Live8 at the weekend. Unlike Live Aid, I didn’t get caught up in the moment.

Live8 LogoI didn’t watch Live8 at the weekend. Unlike Live Aid, I didn’t get caught up in the moment. I am too cynical now and while I believe it was set up for all the right reasons it was hijacked. If every one of those performers had given up all the revenue from increased record sales in the next 6 months then I would have been less cynical. If the ‘Multi-millionaire rock stars performing in Philadelphia’ gave back their free gifts worth $12,000 (£6,800) [Source] I would have been a even less cynical.

Alexis Petridis, in The Guardian, says, “even the most cynical observer would be forced to admit that, even judged on music alone, Live 8 has been a remarkable day” but, unfortunately, I heard very little. Still, I have higher hopes for the today’s G8 Summit. Really, I do.

Cabinet War Rooms

I’d recommend the place to anybody looking for an interesting day out in London.

cabinet_war_rooms.jpg.jpgI hadn’t been to the Cabinet War Room for a number of years so today’s visit was a great chance to remind myself how wonderful they are. The Rooms are really well done and the audio guide brings some of the exhibits to life. The new Churchill Museum is also open now and that’s got some really interesting interactive exhibits to follow Churchill’s life (concentrating, of course, on his years as War Prime Minister). I’d recommend the place to anybody looking for an interesting day out in London.

They Have The Cool Jobs

Flickr has photographs from the Rufus Wainwright session on 6 Music.

rufus at the bbcMany years ago I spent a small amount of time working for BBC local radio. We had minor celebrities pass through the studios but they never phased me. When I first came to London I worked for a company that had studio facilities. A few bigger celebrities came through in the years I worked there and, again, I was not too bothered. Tom, however, got to see Rufus Wainwright play at 6 Music and that makes me very jealous. Everybody loves his new album (which is out here on Monday) and you can find him all over the press this weekend including, and I find it odd, The Times’ Health and Fitness section. Right now, however, I am listening to They Might Be Giants from 1990. Unconnected, I know but brilliant nonetheless.

Prevention of Terrorism Bill

Veteran Labour MP Brian Sedgemore said the government should be “damned” for moving to a style of justice used by South Africa under apartheid.

They say that the people have lost interest in politics, and maybe they have. But, every now and then, there are some great speeches in The House and I am very glad that the web makes them available to me:

They voted: first, to abolish trial by jury in less serious cases; secondly, to abolish trial by jury in more serious cases; thirdly, to approve an unlawful war; fourthly, to create a gulag at Belmarsh; and fifthly, to lock up innocent people in their homes. It is truly terrifying to imagine what those Members of Parliament will vote for next. I can describe all that only as new Labour’s descent into hell, which is not a place where I want to be.

Mr Brian Sedgemore Labour, Hackney South and Shoreditch [source: TheyWorkForYou.com].

It amazes me that this has not been picked up more by mainstream media. Yes, it gets some mention, but nowhere near as much as it deserves.

M6 Toll Speeds My Day

The M6 Toll Road really did save me a lot of time today.

You may recall that I’ve written a great deal about transport in the UK (from congestion charges to grid lock via snow disruption) and I am in favour of a properly integrated transportation infrastructure in the United Kingdom. I am also in favour of public transport and really against the continual building of new roads around the country. However, if we are to build new roads in the UK lets make them all like the M6 Toll road. Returning to London from Shrewsbury today, we took the M6 Toll to speed our journey and it really was much quicker. The time and stress saved is worth the money invested. I know it won’t be a popular opinion but if you don’t want to pay the toll a viable alternative exists.

Still, I just wish they’d make the trains more reliable and integrate them with buses and make them nice and comfortable.