Get us in your inbox

Salma Haidrani

Salma Haidrani

Articles (1)

This Londoner was the first non-binary person on British TV

This Londoner was the first non-binary person on British TV

‘I didn’t have the easiest upbringing. As an effeminate, non-binary, mixed-race teen growing up in a council house in Grimsby in 1959, I was subjected to racist and homophobic insults. I longed to escape. My family tried to knock the “queer” out of me. When I was 14, my mum split my head open into three pieces, and I was taken into a care home. I can still recall how isolating it was – like having the wind blow a hole through your stomach. Just before I turned 18, I moved to a bedsit in Didsbury, Manchester. There were still a few Working Men’s Clubs left where I could work as a tribute act. I soon became known as the Shirley Bassey of the North! I even met Mark E Smith of The Fall – I supported them at shows and appeared in music videos. I always dreamt of moving to the Big Smoke, and in 1980, I moved to a squat in Clapton Pond. Unfortunately, a lot of the National Front called that area home as well. I would often dress androgynously, with pink sequinned tops, and acid green lycra trousers. Unsurprisingly, the skinheads would scream atrocities. One night, they chased us out of our squat, kicking doors down and throwing Molotov cocktails. We grabbed everything we could, and ran to Notting Hill as the riots unfolded. ‘There was no one like me at the time. They didn’t have brown camp people on the telly’ I stayed there for four and a half years. One of my neighbours was Keith Allen, and he invited me to be part of Channel 4’s first youth programme. Later, I starred on “The Com

Listings and reviews (1)

Black Cultural Activism  Map launch

Black Cultural Activism Map launch

Going to the launch of a map might not sound like a banging Saturday night, but this isn’t your average atlas. The Stuart Hall Foundation is joining forces with artists and activists to immortalise the unsung achievements of British people of colour online. This launch night is an IRL celebration of black and brown cultural resistance in the UK over the past 50 years. As for the map? Its completed version is set to be unveiled in spring 2019.  For now, you can get your head around the concept with film screenings, poetry and panel discussions, all held inside Central Saint Martins’ Platform Theatre. Showcases by collectives Voices That Shake! and Reclaim will span storytelling and film while black women and femmes’ vocal group the Nawi Collective will be on hand to raise the roof with ancestral song. London-based print zine Skin Deep, which champions diverse voices, will unveil its latest issue, ‘Movements’, while spoken-word collective Globe Poets will explore identity, connections and memories of south London. Looks like your Saturday plans are mapped out. 

News (14)

Meet Bobby Seagull: the east London genius fighting for Britain to love maths

Meet Bobby Seagull: the east London genius fighting for Britain to love maths

A love of numbers propelled Bobby Seagull from school in Forest Gate to a City job and ‘University Challenge’. Now he’s trying to use what he’s learned to help others… ‘I grew up in East Ham and went to school in the late ’90s in Forest Gate. It had its challenges, but maths was comforting – if I had a bad day, ran out of milk or got mugged, eight times seven would always be 56. I was fortunate enough to grow up with thousands of books at home. I owe my dad a lot for my love of learning. He loved the book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” and gave me and my three brothers the surname “Seagull”. Every Saturday after lunch, we would head to East Ham Library and sprawl on the floor for hours reading books on everything from Victorian engineers to economics to the cities of the world. My dad would do some work before we’d head back for the football scores. In 2000, after spotting an ad in The Times, I won a scholarship to sixth form at Eton. Although I was a state-school student from Newham, I was unfazed about not fitting in – I felt like I’d earned my right to be there. My fellow students believed that they could get to the top of whatever field they entered. It instilled a belief in me that I could make an impact too. By my early twenties, I was mostly preoccupied with making a lot of money and planning to retire to the Bahamas. I worked as a City trader and later as a chartered accountant for five years. I could buy a nice watch or a suit whenever I wanted. But after a while, I r

Meet the Londoner bringing Bollywood to the capital’s LGBT+ clubs

Meet the Londoner bringing Bollywood to the capital’s LGBT+ clubs

Feeling isolated on London’s LGBT+ scene by his South Asian heritage, Ryan Lanji started Hungama: a ‘big gay Indian wedding’ where everyone is welcome… ‘Growing up as a queer Asian in Canada had its challenges. It carried a huge stigma: in the South Asian community, having a gay son is considered an “error”. If parents find out their son is gay, they’re seen to have messed up. I came out when I was 19, and even though my parents accepted me, they told me: “We’ll get through this.” It still made me feel like my sexuality needed to be “fixed”, rather than it being a part of who I was. I dropped out of university, left home and started to explore my queer side. At 22, I moved to London with my partner. But when we broke up three years later, I realised I didn’t have many friends in the LGBT+ community here. I started to immerse myself in east London’s queer club culture: a scene where I was one of the only people of colour. One night, I left a lock-in at 5am in tears, wondering why I didn’t belong. That was a turning point. I’d always reminisced about the Bollywood music and films I grew up with. When I went out to LGBT+ clubs, I wanted to hear Bollywood songs that I’d danced to as a kid. On a visit back to Canada, I started listening to Bollywood music again, and when I returned to London, I thought: I don’t have to lose this. I can keep it. If I feel alone, then other people must feel the same. That’s where the idea for Hungama came from. I decided to throw a big gay Indian w

‘The fight still isn’t over’: remembering the ‘Battle of Brick Lane’ 40 years on

‘The fight still isn’t over’: remembering the ‘Battle of Brick Lane’ 40 years on

Forty years ago, Azad Konor led the ‘Battle of Brick Lane’, as the East End’s Bangladeshi community stood up to racism and violence… ‘I arrived in England in 1972 after the Bangladesh War of Independence with my mum and two brothers. My dad was already living in London and all five of us moved into a cramped one-bedroom flat in Elephant & Castle. Those first days in London were really exciting. I was 14 and I thought we had a bright future ahead of us. But that all changed after a few months. My older brother and I started to get in fights with other schoolkids, who’d make racist remarks while teachers turned a blind eye. In 1975, we moved to Brick Lane. Although there were a few Bangladeshi families living there, it was a white-dominated area at that time, and the National Front was active. Bangladeshi families” letterboxes were set on fire. Our next-door neighbours would throw stones and swear at us. We weren’t safe anywhere: home, school or work. We stayed in groups when we went out. It wasn’t exactly the better life we’d dreamed of. I felt like I had to do something, so I helped found the Bangladesh Youth Front in 1976. There were 21 of us in the beginning, hoping to find solutions to housing inequality and racist attacks. We didn’t have any funds or office space so we’d meet up regularly in Canon Barnett Primary School. It was the only safe space we had, and we’d also hold drama classes there and play football and badminton. I’ll always remember May 4 1978. That was the

Kebabs, kulfi and drone-inspired art: it’s the best of Pakistani London

Kebabs, kulfi and drone-inspired art: it’s the best of Pakistani London

Last year, in a divisive mayoral election, Londoners overwhelmingly voted for the son of a Pakistani bus driver to govern the city. It’s a sign of how far we’ve come since post-war immigration fuelled the rise of the National Front. Back then many newly arrived Pakistanis did blue-collar jobs such as driving taxis, but a sizeable number started their own businesses, and places such as Southall and Waltham Forest – home to London’s most thriving Pakistani communities, with their own grocery stores and halal butchers – are testament to that entrepreneurial spirit. We might have an unfair reputation for being poorly integrated, but through the UK’s curry culture we’ve cemented our place in London life. And as second and third-generation immigrants such as Riz Ahmed, Amir Khan, Zayn Malik and Sadiq himself have proved, there’s much more to Pakistani Brits than newsagents and hangover food. Salma Haidrani Did you know? Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who led Pakistan’s independence from India, lived on Russell Road in Kensington. While he was here he was called to the bar at the tender age of 19. Salma’s favourite Pakistani spots in London   A photo posted by Imperial War Museums (@imperialwarmuseums) on Oct 19, 2016 at 8:08am PDT Pakistani-born artist Mahwish Chishty has her first UK show at the Imperial War Museum until March. Her drone-inspired art series fuses the country’s artistic heritage with contemporary politics. Look past the minimal decor – Raavi Kebab in Euston offers some

14 delicious things to do on Drummond Street, NW1

14 delicious things to do on Drummond Street, NW1

Euston isn’t exactly the first place you’d associate with chicken korma. But Drummond Street, just a few minutes’ stroll from the station, is home to what is probably the capital’s most diverse range of South Asian food. Why travel the breadth of the Indian subcontinent when you’ve got everything from Kerala-inspired, vegetarian street food to Lahore-style kebabs at your fingertips? And unlike Brick Lane, which the street often draws unfair comparisons to, there’s not a tourist trap in sight. But it’s not all kebabs and karahi gosht here: there’s enough on Drummond Street to suit even the most spice-averse of palates. With a mosque, a Catholic school and several pubs nestled side-by-side, this place is unapologetically multicultural and all the better for it. Don’t get too used to it, though. Drummond Street is set to be a casualty of the HS2 railway linking London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. Half the street could be used as a temporary taxi rank and local businesses face demolition from January 2018, despite the efforts of the Save Drummond Street group. The campaign continues, but the best time to drop in and try London’s best mango lassis is now, before noise, dust and uncertainty sweep the street. Drink this A post shared by Raz1260 (@raz1260) on May 6, 2014 at 2:31am PDT A mango lassi at Diwana Bhel Poori House. If only all decisions were as easy as ‘salty or sweet?’.  A pint of one of The Bree Louise’s 23 award-winning real ales. This old-school booz

This Londoner’s Open Iftar project has served up 60,000 Ramadan meals

This Londoner’s Open Iftar project has served up 60,000 Ramadan meals

From a small gathering in Bloomsbury, Omar Salha’s Open Iftar has grown into a global movement that aims to bridge the divisions between faiths… ‘I look forward to Ramadan all year. It’s the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, where Muslims abstain from food and drink for up to 19 hours at a time. My favourite bit is how everything is done together, from praying to breaking your fast – known as iftar. Celebrating iftar with your loved ones is really special. In 2013, I was an international diplomacy undergraduate student at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies). I noticed that during Ramadan, I’d tend to break my fast at home, at a friend’s house or in the mosque. There wasn’t a place where Muslims could share the occasion with the wider community. That’s how I came up with the idea to set up Open Iftar as part of my social enterprise Ramadan Tent Project, so that London’s Muslims can come together and break their fast with people of all backgrounds. We held the very first Open Iftar in 2013 on the SOAS campus. We invited international students, the wider community, passers-by and people from local homeless shelters. It was completely free to attend and 150 people turned up: people of different faiths and no faiths; tourists and international students; deaf and disabled people; toddlers, babies and 80-year-olds. Over the evening, guests got to appreciate the differences of their fellow Londoners while celebrating what we have in common. Most attendees said they

The first UK festival of Muslim culture and literature launches in London this week

The first UK festival of Muslim culture and literature launches in London this week

MFest is coming to the British Library this Friday, here’s what to expect With anti-Muslim hate crimes in the capital rising by 40 percent last year, it’s never been more pressing to celebrate the achievements of British Muslims and their contributions to British culture. Now MFest – a new arts festival of ‘Muslim cultures and ideas’– is going to try and do just that at the British Library. By the looks of the 25-some poetry and comedy nights on offer, it’s off to a solid start. Artists on the bill cross genres and generations. You can talk books and pop culture with the presenters of the ‘Mostly Lit’ podcast on Sunday at noon and catch up with dancer Akram Khan in the evening. It’s a chance to explore the diverse artistic identities of Muslim communities, and it feels like a long time coming. There’s a lot going on over its three days, so we picked the seven events you won’t want to miss. The creative one Get your hands sticky at a Zine Making Workshop with Khidr Collective. With young Muslim communities and magazines like gal-dem transforming the DIY publishing landscape, the idea of this workshop is to demystify the self-publishing process. Khidr Collective was set up in response to a mistrust of mainstream news: now its founders want to help other budding editors create a news source of their own. Sun Apr 29, 12.30pm. Entry with weekend pass. The feminist one ‘Women and Power: Islam and Evolving Feminisms’ will explore the erasure of black Muslims, the struggle for saf

6 London couples reveal the stories behind how they met

6 London couples reveal the stories behind how they met

In a city where 48 percent of single-and-dating people have used a dating app in the past week (so says our City Life Index survey), is it possible to find your match IRL? We talk to six London couples who fell in love without swiping right Emma & Josh (above) Emma (27), interiors blogger, and Josh (30), musician, met in March 2014 at the Notting Hill Arts Club Emma: ‘I was dating a guy who was playing on the same bill as Josh’s band, but when I saw Josh on stage I felt an immediate attraction.’ Josh: ‘There were glances across the room. I could see her in the crowd. I was dating someone else too, but I just felt that connection instantly without speaking.’ Emma: ‘The two bands got chatting but Josh and I didn’t speak loads. He used to make me feel quite shy.’ Josh: ‘In September 2015, we’d both broken up with the people we were dating when we originally met. I decided to test the water.’ Emma: ‘He tweeted me when I was in Berlin, saying “I’m coming over.” I didn’t reply instantly. The next day I was like “What did you mean by that tweet?” We’ve spoken every day since then.’ Josh: ‘We had our first date at one of my gigs. It was the first time we’d seen each other since we were single. We were both wearing the same fedora hats! We stuck out like a sore thumb, didn’t we?’ Emma: ‘He decided to give me a kiss before he went on stage.’ Josh: ‘We were all over each other. I think the band were searching for me before we came on because they couldn’t find me.’ Ruwaydah and Steven 

This London social enterprise trains refugee women as florists

This London social enterprise trains refugee women as florists

Government support for refugees is scarce, but getting employment can help new arrivals integrate and thrive in an unfamiliar city. Founded in London in May 2016 by translator Sneh Jani and hostel worker Olivia Head, Bread & Roses is a social enterprise that trains refugee women in floristry. Tackling the specific challenges faced by unemployed refugees, it has worked with more than 60 women from all over the world, helping them gain English language skills, confidence and an understanding of the UK job market. Several have gone on to paid work. Help vulnerable new Londoners start out on a stronger footing by buying a Valentine’s bouquet with a conscience, or splurge on a wreath-making workshop. You can even nudge your workplace to sponsor a trainee, and they’ll send you a weekly bouquet and run a floristry workshop in your office. There’s nothing like watching someone bloom.  Sign up here to get the latest from London straight to your inbox.

15 champion things to do on Chalton Street, NW1

15 champion things to do on Chalton Street, NW1

‘I will not declare that those who have not visited Somers Town have missed much,’ wrote Charles George Harper in his book ‘A Londoner’s Own London’. But that was back in 1927. These days, tourists and Londoners killing time before a train at Euston or King’s Cross would be missing out big time if they didn’t take a walk up Chalton Street. Nestled between the two stations, Somers Town could so easily have been Cocks Town: it was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers. Nondescript it may seem, but Charles Dickens, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley all called this area home, and more recently, Shane Meadows set his whole film ‘Somers Town’ here. Chalton Street is the area’s main drag, home to two art galleries, a shop selling vegan cheese, historic pubs and a diverse assortment of restaurants. The twice-weekly street market is the glue that holds the neighbourhood together: in its heyday, it was one of London’s most thriving. With the HS2 railway set to change the face of Somers Town, Chalton Street has big ambitions not to be left behind. A crowdfunder by the local community association to save Chalton Street Market hit its £60,000 target in the summer, with Sadiq Khan pledging £15,000 in support. Got some free time before your next train? Race you there. Drink this A post shared by Thomas Martin (@monkmartin) on Jan 14, 2018 at 3:12am PST A handcrafted cocktail from the three-page list at family-run smokehouse Cattle & Co. A lychee sake at no-frills Japanese 

Meet the Londoner who turned a parking space into a public garden

Meet the Londoner who turned a parking space into a public garden

When green campaigner Brenda Puech turned a parking spot outside her house into a tiny garden, she sparked a row with the council and a debate about who deserves space on London’s streets… ‘Last summer, I set up a mini garden in a parking space next to London Fields. I’d been thinking about it for a long time. I didn’t have a car, and I wanted to show how a parking space could be used for something else. In Hackney, where I live, there are more than twice as many households that don’t own a car as ones that do. Yet nearly all our kerbside space is devoted to car parking. I couldn’t shake off the feeling of what a waste of precious space it was! I tried to buy an annual parking permit from Hackney Council to use the space, but they refused to let me have one because I didn’t have or want a car. So I decided to take the initiative and converted a parking space directly outside my home into a garden. The space was usually vacant, so I knew that using it would cause minimal inconvenience to my car-owning neighbours. On May 26, at the start of the summer, I officially launched the People Parking Bay: a patch of artificial grass the size of a car, with flowerpots, a bench and table, a bright red umbrella and a large sign that read “You’re welcome to park yourself on the bench.” In my ideal world, I’d love to see more kids playing in the streets and people using them as a place to sit or exercise. Over the course of the summer I got my wish. People used the Parking Bay as a resting

Did you know that there's a Tower Bridge in China? Seven London landmarks around the world

Did you know that there's a Tower Bridge in China? Seven London landmarks around the world

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then London must be blushing hard. Here are seven of the copies and twins of our city’s landmarks from around the world... The twin-pack Tower Bridge in Suzhou (above) China boasts versions of 17 world-famous landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to the Sydney Opera House. But which of our city’s precious icons has a copy more than 4,000 miles away in Suzhou, in Jiangsu province? Good old Tower Bridge. Kind of, anyway. Its super-sized Chinese cousin actually flaunts four 40-metre towers, rather than London’s paltry two, and a whole load of lanes of motorway traffic to boot. Imagine if someone built a dual carriageway straight through Hogwarts and you’ll be somewhere close to this Frankenstein bridge. Big Ben’s little brother in Kolkata   The world’s most famous clock tower has a mini-me copy, almost 5,000 miles away. ‘The Kolkata Time Zone’ – as it’s been christened – was built in just ten months (the original took 16 years). It features four giant clock faces like the London one, and it even lights up at night like ours too. The only difference is that, at just 135ft, it’s less than half the height of the 315ft original. Still, if you’re pining for Big Ben’s bongs during its current renovations, get yourself over to West Bengal. The shrunken Houses of Parliament Tochigi Why travel the world when you can see it all in one afternoon? That’s the PR spiel for Tobu World Square theme park in Tochigi, Japan. The destination offers visito

The best things in life are free.

Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

Loading animation
Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!