As part of a CabbieBlog series with the imaginative title The Buildings of London we focus on another London architectural delight.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, to give it its full title, is emerging like a phoenix from the old Middlesex Guildhall, on the south side of Parliament Square – and what as little gem it promises to be.
Little did Tony Blair imagine, or care, when he was ingratiating himself with the Americans to guarantee his healthy income stream for when he left office, that copying their idea of a Supreme Court would bring that neglected building to life.
[T]he name Middlesex comes from the kingdom of the Middle Saxons, and has been around for over a thousand years and the Guildhall symbolises that civic pride. The building was built between 1906 and 1913 in an art nouveau gothic theme, and decorated with mediaeval-looking gargoyles and other architectural sculptures. The Guildhall also incorporates in the rear a doorway dating from the seventeenth century which was a part of the Tothill Fields Bridewell prison and moved to the site to be incorporated in the building.
The conversion has attracted much controversy from conservation groups, which claim that the conversion will be unsympathetic to such an important building. The Middlesex Guildhall is a Grade II* listed building and English Heritage classed the three main Court interiors as ‘unsurpassed by any other courtroom of the period in terms of the quality and completeness of their fittings’. But the conversion works have involved the removal of many of the original fixtures and fittings with a vague promise to display a few key pieces in the basement and find a home for the rest in some other building not yet designed or built.
Outside the building stands a statute of George Canning whose total period in the office of Prime Minister was at 119 days the shortest on record. If only Tony Blair tenure had been so brief, Britain might not be in the sorry state it finds itself today.
When American tourists get into my cab they will ask me questions about the Royal Family, never do they want to know about Gordon Brown or Tony Blair for that matter.
But once again the cost of keeping our Royals is up for debate.
[U]nable to criticise the Queen whose frugality is legendary, these Republicans (including the BBC) seize on the petty extravagance of minor members of the Royal Family, whose only job is to provide us with much entertainment.
At 69p per person in this country, the cost of having our Royal Family is miniscule compared to the extravagance of politicians; their international travel to ‘summits’, chauffeured cars, and don’t get me on the expenses scandal, which has laid bare the greed at the heart of The Palace of Westminster.
When will we in this country learn to stop spitting on our good luck and to keep the precious possessions our wiser parents fought for and handed to us on a plate?
The question that should be asked is not what do the Royal Family get, but what powers do they stop others from receiving.
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Now here’s a question for you, and no conferring. How many potholes are there on Britain’s roads? The answer is to be found at the bottom of this post. Oxford City Council has proposed a plan to ‘Sponsor A Pothole’ because it does not have enough funding to cover the cost of maintaining the streets. A spokesman said the scheme would ‘reward’ businesses and local people who paid for pothole repairs with roadside signs ‘in honour’ of their contribution.
[L]ondon’s worst offender has to be The City of London its roads are so bad they have better roads in Iraq. As a cabbie, my arms ache with the vibration travelling up the steering column, when traversing the City’s streets.
It’s amazing isn’t it? One of the wealthiest square miles in the world and the streets that Dick Whittington imagined were paved with gold, now need a 4×4 to negotiate.
So instead of discarded McDonald’s packaging left in the gutter, soon we might have signs proclaiming in no parking yellow ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ stencilled across the tarmac.
Need more information click this link for everything you wanted to know about potholes, but to get you started there are estimated to be more than 1.5 million potholes on Britain’s roads.
Call me a naïve cabbie – something I am often accused – but I thought that the yellow police appeal signs were a sensible way of helping to solve crime and not merely a vulgar way to decorate and bring colour to London’s streets.
But it would appear the bright yellow police signs appealing for witnesses to serious offences will no longer decorate London’s streets.
[I]n an attempt to reduce ‘fear of crime’, the Metropolitan Police has effectively banned the use of the distinctive signs in all but exceptional circumstances. Presumably rape, murder, serious assault and armed robbery don’t constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’, because they were the only ones to gaily bring colour to the pavements of Brixton and Peckham.
Now officers can request their use in exceptional circumstances, but any such requests must be authorised by a ‘specialist crime directorate commander’. So I want you all to go down to your local nick and request to talk to your ‘specialist crime directorate commander’. He’s not to be confused with the odd job crime directorate commander who’s in charge minor crimes like dropping litter and allowing your dog to foul the pavement.
Someone in the higher echelons of the Met has become aware that in crime hotspots several yellow signs were being put up at once and presumably thought it showed the police in a bad light, as if crime was out of control.
As a London cabbie I know that the Met are doing their best at preventing ‘specialist crime’, I see dozens of police in yellow high visibility jackets on the streets every night stopping motorists. But doesn’t that make it look that motoring offences are out of control?