Around & About 1985

London Portrait Magazine

London Portrait Magazine was London's first glossy, free-distribution magazine. It was delivered to the capital's more exclusive addresses and, unlike its many imitators, was regarded as a 'good read' with excellent editorial features. Eventually a combination of a change of editor and the greedy climate of the late-Eighties 'boom-and-crash' property market took their toll. Christopher Long's 'Around & About' was the regular, monthly news column.

By Christopher Long

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January 1985 – New Year Quiz (1984)

This, the annual New Year Quiz, was devised by Christopher Long.

To answer the questions it helped if you had read all the 1984 issues of London Portrait Magazine...

December 1985

There were some wry comments about my observation that "there must be a lot in it for the French" in October's item on the Channel Tunnel.

As the Government now peruses the three fixed link (privately financed) schemes put forward as alternatives, neither radio, television nor the press have enquired 'Why are the French so keen?'

The answer seems fairly obvious. At present export and import trade between Britain and the rest of the world moves largely through British ports, just as French trade goes through French ports.

If a Chunnel or bridge is built then the world may find it easier and cheaper to ship its bulk deliveries for Britain and Europe through a French port, bulk-breaking the consignments for different countries at, say, Marseilles, Le Havre or Calais. France then become the mouth of Europe with a lucrative shipping, landing and freight handling business. No doubt they will also 'generously' provide transport for those deliveries heading for Britain.

As their trade increases and their infrastructure expands to meet the demands of all Europe, dear old Britain will still be paying the bill for the tunnel or bridge as our own shipping and freight infrastructure declines.

No doubt we'll raise toasts to the spirit of the entente cordiale and the private speculators will not be poorer on opening day. But will the government remember what happened to British shipping and ports when the Dutch shrewdly developed the largest container port in Europe, or how the French used British investment in the ill-fated Concorde in order to acquire, at our expense, our expertise and prestige for her new aerospace industry?

The Channel isn't the only cause of tunnel/bridge controversy. Over in East London a massive row is taking place over Government plans to build a £168 million bridge across the Thames to complete the M25 and outer orbital link.

Now the subject of a public enquiry, with strong representations from those who oppose the six miles of link roads necessary, the inspector has nine alternative river crossing schemes to examine , along with the suggestion that there should be no new link at all.

Most of the alternative schemes involve the creation of a third Dartford tunnel bore or a new Blackwall tunnel (or even a combination of both) and none seem to favour anything like the Government's proposed bridge at Woolwich.

Nobody has yet suggested an island in the middle of the Thames or a direct link between Woolwich and Calais, but surely someone should be wondering why the French are keeping so quiet on the subject.

Whether you regard the wheel-clamp as a success depends, I suppose, on whether you're the clamper or the clamped.

Scotland Yard at least is sufficiently pleased with trial operations in Central London to be planning to privatise the scheme next summer, thus releasing more of its men to normal police duties. Fifteen vans in each borough will continue to patrol Kensington, Chelsea and Camden.

The Yard will be happy, of course, to disassociate itself from the sort of activity which does little to enhance good public relations. Most policemen are well aware that being the scourge of offending motorists earns them little love among otherwise law-abiding majority upon whom they depend.

Officially at least, the privatised service is described as more economic though a police officer or traffic warden will still supervise each team of uniformed civilian clampers. No change in the penalty is announced though a strict 'money first' policy will apply before you'll get yourself declamped!

The new clampers, though, may be tougher. They have a profit motive in getting to your car before you do.

Even rubbish, it seems, can be privatised ! A new scheme to beat street squalor has just been launched by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea whereby traders pay £250 p.a. for the privilege of having their names, logos or sales messages attached to two sides of a new street litter bin.

Those interested in lending their name to such a public-spirited cause should contact Colin Bradford on 01-373 6099.

This year's new Lord Mayor, Sir Alan Davis, kicked off his term of office with a slogan on his lips – "Service With A Smile". The idea of the 'smile' badge on the lapels of all those concerned with the Lord Mayor's Show may not be entirely original but it did prompt one to wonder whether this was supposed to be a reflection of current City attitudes or whether it was an exhortation to the pin-stripe battalions to cheer up their public image.

Interestingly, a number of tourist surveys still show that London is regarded as a warm and friendly place despite its squalor, inefficiency, high prices and kill-joy licensing laws. Equally it's clear that many residents don't agree. True, our shop assistants (when you can find them) may be more welcoming than the Parisian variety and our policemen more helpful than those in Greece or Spain, but one must earnestly hope we'll not have to cultivate the "Have a Nice Day" habit of New York in order to persuade the nation that the City is full of kind, cuddly, generous-hearted gents whose only wish is to press a smile and a golden guinea into the palm of every needy member of the redundant and unemployed.

Still, there's hope for us in the end. Sir Alan's chosen charity is the Foundation for Age Research.

And finally, this being the run-up to Christmas, it must be said that Selfridges (the only home of the real Father Christmas) have surpassed themselves this year in their Christmas Grotto. Considering that they've been putting together their display of Nursery Rhyme characters since last February you might think its producers would be a little sick of Christmas by now. But it's well worth seeing.

All you might need next is a traditional carol concert to round things off – and amazingly you can forget about anything as simple or as popular from the stuffy elitists at Westminster Abbey.

"Oh no, we're far too liturgical for anything like that," says the Rev'd Alan Luff, speaking from what you and I might regard as Central London's principal church. They hold a 'solemn' processional service after Christmas, of course. Of course.

Instead, why not go over to St Paul's where they cater for real, live, Christmassy people with a full carol service at 4 pm on December 21 or the blessing of the Crib with carols at 4 pm on Christmas Eve.

My apologies! The columns for January – November 1985 have yet to be included in this page.

© (1985) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
The text and graphical content of this and linked documents are the copyright of their author and or creator and site designer, Christopher Long, unless otherwise stated. No publication, reproduction or exploitation of this material may be made in any form prior to clear written agreement of terms with the author or his agents.

Christopher Long

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