The Weekly Me

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As of this month I’ve joined the esteemed ranks of the New Statesman‘s regular online columnists. My pitch for the gig was, basically, “I can write about technical or obscure but important issues, but in a funny, engaging way, every week“. Think about this for a moment, and you might notice that I’ve made about three separate rods for my own back there.

Anyway, here are my first four attempts:

  • If inflation is so bad for us, then why is so much policy designed to make us want more of it?
  • And, something of a viral hit: why JK Rowling should buy her own national newspaper. Really.
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Jonn @Londonist: Er, lots of things

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Am going to be upping the frequency of my contributions to Londonist, on the grounds that they’ve kindly let me into the semi-mythical inner sanctum of the editorial team.

Said contributions are likely to be frequent enough, in fact, that I’m not going to bother posting links to all of them. But a sample from recent weeks:

  • On where the cycle hire scheme will end
  • On why average house price figures are misleading
  • ASBOs all round: what other anti-social behaviour should we be fining into oblivion?

And for those of you who can’t get enough Jonn*, you can keep an eye on this page for all future Londonist goodness.

*Please note treatments for such psychopathies are now available on the NHS.

Jonn @Londonist: Official* Olympic travel advice (*please note advice may not actually be official)

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Quite possibly the single most re-tweeted thing I’ve ever written:

With the Olympic Park and 13 other venues soon to open, London’s transport system is about to get busy. Really busy. Seriously, we’re talking All-Bar-One-at-West-India-Quay-on-Bonus-Day busy here. You know those ‘pickled people’ executive toys you used to see around the place? Imagine that, but on the Central Line. Honestly, if you can leave we’d recommend you do so. It’s certainly what we’re planning. No, hang on, forget we said that.

Luckily for those who are stuck here, Transport from Londonist has been planning ahead. Keep our tips in mind, and you too can get ahead of the games. By working together, showing consideration for Olympic sponsors other Londoners and abandoning all pretence of normality, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll survive this thing.

The following parts of London are likely to be particularly busy over the next few weeks:

1) Where you work.

2) Where you live.

We realise there is little you can do to avoid these places. We just wanted to show we were on the case…

You can read the rest here.

Footnotes: on the demise of the Routemaster, 2006

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Another post saved from Londonshelf, which has gone to the great bloghosting in the sky. This one’s on the decision to take the last of the old Routemaster buses out of service.

End of the line
Jonn Elledge argues that the demise of the Routemaster is no bad thing.

I have to confess something that, in London these days, seems to be roughly on a par with admitting to pig molestation: I don’t like Routemaster buses. They pollute; they’re uncomfortable; in winter they’re freezing cold by the open door, yet coma-inducingly hot on the top deck. Worst of all, the ceilings are so low that any passengers over six foot tall are in serious danger of ending up locked in a permanent Quasimodo pose.
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The 50-foot update, part 1: the cultural stuff

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Look, I’ve been busy, alright? Since we last spoke, a mere 11 months ago, I have edited nine issues of the increasingly fabulous EducationInvestor magazine, raised six kittens, looked after sick loved ones, attempted to tutor a Zimbabwean teenager in English and Maths, walked in a circle all the way round London, composed half a novel that will almost certainly never see the light of day, and organised an awards do. So there.

As of last night, I’ve also finally got around to re-doing this website to make it a bit more user friendly. In future I’m going to post every new article individually, to make life a bit simpler. But to catch up, here’s the first of two giant posts to wrap up all the freelance stuff I’ve done over the last few months. This one covers the London and cultural stuff; the other will cover the education and politics stuff.

The London stuff:

  • A Ruislip by any other name: What Boris Johnson’s cycle scheme can tell us about the strangely changeable names of the city’s different neighbourhoods (Londonist, August 12th 2010)
  • Solving London’s drinking problem: some modest proposals to make us less bladdered (Londonist, October 27th 2010)
  • Brand new map, brand new mistakes: On how the rail companies care more about corporate identity than about actually helping us get places (Londonist, March 15th 2011)

Culture stuff:

  • A review of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: if anyone can tell me what this film is meant to be about, I’d be glad to know (Shinyshelf, October 26th 2010)
  • A review of Burke and Hare: A film that deserves its own truth and reconciliation commission (Shinyshelf, November 8th 2010)
  • Doctor Who regenerates: Russell T Davies versus Steven Moffat (Shinyshelf, June 24th 2010)
  • Elisabeth Sladen obituary: on the death of Sarah Jane Smith (Shinyshelf, April 20th 2011)

I also contributed to Shinyshelf’s three christmas posts on the highlights of 2010 (Shinyshelf, December 24th-27th 2010). Just so you know.

In which the words of Dr Johnson are put to the test, and the actions of Mr Johnson come in for some scrutiny

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I’m a regular contributor to Londonist, where I mostly narrow my eyes suspiciously at City Hall and fret about the housing crisis.

On City Hall:

  • Busy doing nothing – the inert mayoralty of Boris Johnson (July 2009)
  • Another one bites the dust – to lose one deputy may be considered a misfortune. To lose three… (June 2009)
  • London Assembly Members: Any dirt? – at the height of the parliamentary expenses scandal, I had a flick through the register of member’s interest (May 2009)

On housing:

  • They come over here, they take our houses… Why the immigrant housing myth persists (July 2009)
  • Housing crisis? What housing crisis? – on the Mayor’s affordable homes strategy (May 2009)

On the 2009 European elections:

  • European Elections: The Alternative Parties – a cut out and keep guide (June 2009)
  • Euro-elections: the morning after the night before – on the BNP vote (June 2009)

I briefly wrote for the shameless-and-swiftly-abandoned Londonist rip-off, Londonshelf:

  • The Beginning of the End – why Hoxton is so over (December 2006)
  • End of the Line – why I was glad to see the back of those bloody Routemasters (December 2006)

I’ve also written two features for the artsy quarterly, Smoke: A London Peculiar:

  • Burgess Park – on an unexpected hole in Camberwell (Winter 2004)
  • All Roads Lead to Romford – on a long walk, and the strangely semi-detached relationship between London and Essex (Spring 2007)

And finally, some some silly photo stories:

  • The mysterious theft of the Cambridge roundabout from a portacabin in Wood Green
  • Snitch on your friends – fabulous prizes to be won!