A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
I received the notice from London 2012 Olympic committee, saying that I have not been allocated the tickets I requested for the opening and closing ceremonies in April (see past entry). According to the Evening Standard’s article, two thirds of 1.9 million applicants for the Olympic tickets, which is 1.2 million, couldn’t win tickets – so we are not so unlucky after all. In the notice, I was also informed that I was, among the people who couldn’t win any tickets, invited to take advantage of a second chance to purchase some of the remaining tickets which will be 2.3 millions for 311 of 650 events sessions (schedule), between June 24th to July 3rd. Some of the tickets with good availability are football tournament (1.7 millions – over the majority), boxing, Judo, synchronised swimming and volleyball. The tickets with low possibility are athletics, archery, fencing and beach volleyball (see the table below). You can get tickets if you are not picky, but I am wondering if we apply any, as M is not so keen to see any games…
I found this newspaper ad today, of “i“, which will go on sale on October 26. Created by the Independent, i will be the first quality daily paper to have launched in UK in almost 25 years, since the Independent itself in 1986.
i, published by Independent Print Limited, is a concise version of the Independent, and is designed for busy readers who are suffering from information overload and want a comprehensive digest of the news. This “mini Indy” is available on Mondays to Fridays, for just 20p, which is the same as The tabloid paper, The Sun. The owner Alexander Lebedev, a the Russian Billionare and former KGB agent, purchased the Independent this March for £1 (see past entry), after acquired the London Evening Standard for also £1 and made its distribution tripled by making the paper free of charge. He was expected to do something for the Independent as well, and now came up with this brilliant idea. It is also relatively risk-free for the publisher, making it with low additional cost by using news from the Independent. Let’s see if this “mini Indy” can help revive the underdog Independent, which has currently the lowest daily circulation among the UK quality national newspapers.
The one of the youngest and smallest-selling national newspaper, the Independent has been sold to former KGB agent and on of the Russian oligarchs, Alexander Lebedev for £1, from Irish publisher Independent News & Media (INM). INM has reported a pre-tax loss of €31m (£27.7m) in 2009. The paper had a daily circulation of 183,547 copies in February 2010, down from a circulation of over 400,000 in 1989, and 10.88% from the previous year. INM agreed to pay Lebedev £9.25m over the next 10 months to take on the future liabilities of the loss-making newspapers. Lebedev also bought the London Evening Standard last year for £1, and made its distribution tripled by making the paper free of charge. There is a speculation that the Independent will be free as well, but there is no decision as to whether it’s free or not, according to Lebedev spokesman.
Founded in 1986 by three former Daily Telegraph journalists, the Independent takes center-left / liberal political stance. The paper has also taken strong positions on environmental issues and against the restriction of mass immigration. It has been critical of 2003 Invasion of Iraq, and US and UK foreign policy related to the War on Terrorism. The Independent changed its format from broadsheet to ‘compact’ version from September 2003, and redesigned its layout in 2005. However, this couldn’t help the paper to get out of its financial trouble, due to the recession and reduced income from advertising.
M criticizes the Independent’s political position as too idealistic and too unrealistic. I am not a big fan of the Independent either, but I was addicted to the “Prize Super Sudoku” with 16×16 boxes on the Saturday Independent, and I bought the Independent only for the Super Sudoku for a while. I don’t know if it is due to its financial problem or some other reason, but the prize had been downgraded by time, and I lost my passion and stopped buying the paper. I had been doing it for about a year maybe, and I improved my Sudoku skills and won three prizes, £50 theater token and two books that I was not interested in and gave to my friends. During my addiction, M complained every Saturday as he had to read the Independent and I was so into it and stopped talking to him every time I started to play it.
最近のロンドンは、とにかく道路工事が多い。出かける度に、工事による迂回や道幅縮小、またそれによって引き起こされる交通渋滞に遭遇する。今日のイブニング・スタンダード紙の記事によると、ロンドンでは昨年1年間で37万件もの道路工事が行われた（ロンドン交通局：Transport for London調べ）。これは、ロンドンにある8万5千の通りが平均4回は掘り起こされた計算になり、これらの工事による市の経済的ダメージは年間10億ポンドに上るという。ロンドンでは今日時点で、5500以上の道路工事が行われており、その中にはオックスフォード・ストリートやピカデリーなど、主要な道路も含まれているという。
この異常な数は、工事数の60％を占める、水道会社のテムズ・ウォーター）による老朽化した水道管の交換（今年がビクトリア時代に作られた水漏れの激しい水道本管の交換のピークになるそう。詳細はこのサイトで）の他、ロンドンの東西を結ぶCrossrail計画を含む、2012年開催予定のロンドン・オリンピックに向けてのインフラの整備、そして30年来の寒波の影響に夜18万個もの道路のくぼみや水道管やガスパイプの破裂が原因であるが、ボリス・ジョンソンロンドン市長も、公約である「war on roadworks（道路工事との戦い）」を遂行していないと、批判の矢面に立っている。市長の工事許可制制度では、工事を行う会社は開始前に区から許可を得ないといけないとされているが、全ての区がこの制度を採用しているわけではない。
There is a lot of roadworks all over London recently, and I encounter a road restriction, diversion or traffic jam caused by the roadworks every time I go out. According to today’s Evening Standard‘s article, 370,000 sets of roadworks were recorded last year (figures from Transport for London), and it means that the equivalent of each of the London’s estimated 85,000 streets has been dug up four times on average in the last 12 months, costing the city’s economy up to £1 billion a year. More than 5,500 roads are being worked in London on today, including major routes such as Oxford Street and Piccadilly.
This crazy number of works has been created by Thames Water, which responsible for up to 60% of the works with their pipe replacements (this year will be the peak for replacing leaky Victorian mains), as well as preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympics including major engineering and infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, and the coldest winter in 31 years that caused damages, including estimated 180,000 potholes on the roads, and fractures to underground water and gas pipes. Mayor Boris Johnson is also criticized as he has failed to deliver on his promised “war on roadworks,” cutting roadworks by licences and strong control, but not all boroughs have signed up to the Mayor’s permit scheme that requires utility companies to apply for a permit before they begin a roadwork.
I am afraid that the roadwork hell will continue until the London Olympics – what a pain in the neck!!
I read the first article of “The Dispossessed,” a five-day special report on London’s forgotten poor in the London Evening Standard. It is is quite shocking article about the city hugely divided between rich and poor. In London, the richest capital in Europe, 1 in 6 children grow up in workless households, and the number of people in low income households have risen 1.3 million over the past three years. 1.9 million of people, a quarter of the city’s population, have no or low qualifications. On the other hand, under this tough economic circumstances, huge bonuses for bankers, including some banks rescued with billions of public money, are acutely criticized, and one-off 50% levy on all bank bonuses worth more than £25,000 enforced by the government make many people feel gratified. Considering public sentiment after all the chaos banks and bankers caused, there is no other choice for bankers but to be generous and altruistic to the society. There should be some sort of brake worldwide for this out-of-control bonus to the bankers, which possibly cause another financial crisis in the future – otherwise they may be all lynched by the angry public, like what happened to aristocrats during the French Revolution. They already have enough money to enjoy their privileged life, so just downgrade from Ferrari to BMW and take £3 million flat instead of paying £5 million, during this tough time.
London’s four boroughs in East End; Islington (where we hang around), Hackney (where we live), Tower Hamlets (where Brick Lane is) and Newham, are the capital’s most deprived boroughs, where 48 per cent of children live in poverty. However, Hackney and Islington are quite close to the financial district the City, and there are some trendy areas with expensive apartments and posh stores and restaurants, side by side with the council housing blocks. Islington is the centre of the article, where the social-reforming New Labour project began: this is where former prime minister Tony Blair lived and it is here at Granita restaurant in fashionable Upper Street, that he and current prime minister Gordon Brown met in 1994 to discuss their rise to power. Blair became Prime Minister in 1997 and two years later he made his pledge to “end child poverty within a generation” and to “halve it by 2010” , but the reality is far worse than they planned. The New Labor government revitalized the economy, and as a result the country as a whole had enjoyed prosperity, but the gap between rich and the poor have widened. In the article, a boy who live in the social housing block in the heart of Upper street (photo above), but for him Upper street is ‘useless’ and there is nothing to do there. He has never eaten in a restaurant in his life, except all-you-can-eat for £5 buffet. He lives on £50 a week budget, and cannot even afford to pay for £19 college application form. His self-confidence has been crashed after he had been turned down 32 jobs without a chance to have an interview. It is an irony that this is the same area where liberal middle class “Champagne socialists,” who live around Upper street and hang around trendy Ottolenghi, talk about social justice – I am afraid that they don’t mix with people like him and have no clue what kind of life he lives through…
Islington Town Hall. Massive £1 million was spent to refurbish its art deco Assembly Hall last year
English National Opera（イングリッシュ・ナショナル・オペラ／ENO）で、ヘンデルのメサイア（Messiah）を観た。イエス・キリストの生涯を描いたオラトリオの名作・メサイアは、もともとオペラの楽曲ではないのだが、気鋭の演出家・Deborah Warner（デボラ・ワーナー）によって、現代社会を舞台に、ダンスを取り入れたユニークなオペラ作品に仕上がった。衣装も小物も現代風、時折舞台後方のスクリーンに宗教画が映されたり、キリスト教の儀式に使われる小道具が劇中に出てくる程度で、キリストの物語にも関わらず宗教色は強くない。ティーンエイジャーの妊娠はマリアの処女懐胎、天使が羊飼いにキリスト降誕を告げる場面は、お遊戯会で子供たちがその場面を演じる形に、キリストの磔刑シーンは、若者の喧嘩に変えるなど、原作と繋がりを持たせようとしているが、ちょっと無理があるかも。キリスト教の学校に行っていたので、ある程度の知識はあるのだが、舞台上で起こってることと音楽とどう繋がりがあるのか分からず、後でタイムズ紙のレビューを読んで、ああそういうことだったのかと得心した。
We saw Handel‘s Messiah at the English National Opera (ENO). Messiah was not written for opera, but the director Deborah Warner transforms this oratorio masterpiece into an unique opera work, setting in modern urban life and taking in dance elements. The opera seems to reduce religion to a minimum – costumes and stage sets are modern, except the religious arts occasionally projected on screens and some ceremonial objects used in some scenes. The director tries to make a connection between the original story and this opera, but the attempt unfortunately doesn’t not really work well and quite cheesy: the Virgin Birth becomes teenage pregnancy, the meeting of shepherds and angels is turned into a school nativity play, and Christ’s scourging and Crucifixion translate into a fight among youths. I went to a Protestant school and know a bit about the life of Jesus Christ, but I barely understood the relationship between the music and what was going on on the stage. I figured out the meaning of some scenes after I came back home and read the review by the Times.
The biggest problem for me was the kids in the opera – I know it is not their fault but it was just annoying. A 6 year-old boy was almost always on the stage, walking around, running or sitting down, and it was very distracting. The scene of school play was really irritating as well, except a song by a boy with beautiful clear voice: the kids jumped up and down and the parents took a pictures or filmed with camcorders. It is reported that the opera uses 44 extras other than singers, including dancers. Some people just stand up or lie down – is it really necessary to put useless people on the stage??
However I I like Handel and Baroque music and enjoyed the music a lot: the Handel specialist conductor Laurence Cummings led the orchestra beautifully and voices of the two female soprano and alto singers were truly graceful. The modern and simple stage sets designed by Tom Pye were interesting, such as video footage of modern society (people going up and down on an elevator, or silhouettes of moving cranes) and transparent coffins placed all over the stage at the final part. We got a ticket, original price of £71 for only £10 with Evening Standardpromotion – so it was really worth going. But I would be upset if I paid £71 for the opera…
ロンドンの他の無料紙「thelondonpaper」が先月廃刊となっただけに、イブニング・スタンダードの無料化はうれしい。現在、ロンドンの無料紙は、Metro、Londo Lite、そしてThe London Evening Standardの3紙（＋経済紙・City A.M.）。ただ、メディアの専門家によると、無料紙のパイは小さく、いずれLondon LiteはThe London Evening Standardと合併するか、姿を消すだろうとのこと。無料紙のみならず、インターネットでニュースを読む人が増え、既存の有料新聞も、軒並み発行部数を減らしている。インデペンデント（The Independent）やガーディアンの日曜紙・オブザーヴァー（The Observer）などは存亡の危機だと言う。イギリスの新聞業界はこれから淘汰が進むんだろうか。
The London’s regional evening newspaper with over 180-year history, “The Evening Standard” became a free newspaper from today, changed their name to “The London Evening Standard.” The Evening Standard vendors with eye-catching orange stripes, placed on the Tube exits, together with the signboards with a sensational headline of the day’s paper, was one of the London’s everyday life scenes. Once the Evening Standard boasted its circulation of 650,000 on its hay day, but now the number dropped to 255,000, due to the competition with emerging free papers such as Metro, London Lite, and thelondonpaper. This January, the owner of the Evening Standard Associated Newspapers, the publisher of Dairy Mail and London Lite, sold 75.1% of the Evening Standard stocks to an ex-KGB spy and Russian businessman, Alexander Lebedev for the astonishing price of £1. This move to make the Evening Standard free came in a bid to increase its circulation from 250,000 to 600,000, to attract potential sponsors for its survival.
The Evening Standard is a regional newspaper of London, but also covers national and international news, as well as London-centred news. For my point of view, the Evening Standard places in between Quality Press and Tabloids – more serious than tabloids, but less tortuous and easier to read than quality press.
This addition to London’s free papers is welcomed, after thelondonpaperdiscontinued as of the last month. Currently there are three free papers in London – Metro, Londo Lite, and the London Evening Standard (+ financial paper City A.M.). However, a media expert suggested that London has a space for only one free evening paper, and the Lite would eventually close or merge with the Standard. Not only free papers but also existed newspapers have been loosing their circulation, as many people read news online now. It is said that the Independent and The Observer(the Guardian‘s sunday paper) are not doing well adn could fail anytime. Probably UK’s newspaper industries will go into the process of selection soon.