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Time Out London contributor

Time Out London contributor

This is a special post by a brand new Time Out contributor. Let's all give them a warm welcome to the blog, shall we? 

Articles (23)

It happened here: Lloyd Griffith’s funniest London moment

It happened here: Lloyd Griffith’s funniest London moment

The year was 1995, I was 12 and the school choir coach trip from Grimsby to London had taken ages. I remember looking out as we swooped through Brent Cross, thinking that London didn’t look much like it did on TV. But an hour later our coach arrived at the BBC studios in Wood Lane, and it was exactly as I’d seen it every Saturday on ‘Live & Kicking’. For me, it was the equivalent of the Hollywood sign. Our school choir had been invited to sing on ‘The National Lottery’ because Grimsby Council had been given a grant to buy a Steinway piano for its new auditorium. As we stepped off the bus we all lost our minds at the plethora of celebs just knocking about. Bob Geldof, PJ & Duncan and Toby Anstis were all present and correct. On the piano for our performance was none other than actor, comedian, musician and composer Dudley Moore. To this day I don’t think anyone knows why Dudley Moore was playing piano with a choir from Grimsby – least of all Dudley Moore. ‘Suddenly, Mystic Meg appeared right next to me in the canteen queue’ The host, Anthea Turner, showed us round the studios, teaching us about the ins and outs of telly – and introducing us to Mystic Meg. Meg could do no wrong in my eyes: with her pristine hair, flamboyant clairvoyant regalia and oh-so-accurate predictions,  she was my childhood hero. Unfortunately, Mystic Meg wasn’t as welcoming as the other stars. I was a little sad, but I understood that she was ‘in the zone’. About an hour later, I was in the canteen where

It happened here: Olga Koch’s funniest London moment

It happened here: Olga Koch’s funniest London moment

London’s Regent’s Canal will forever hold a special place in my heart. Specifically, the chunk from Coal Drops Yard to Angel. For my twenty-seventh birthday I fulfilled my lifelong dream of having a glamorous boat party. To keep within reasonable budget, I settled on less of a yacht and more of an enlarged canoe. One balmy September evening, we embarked on the voyage of a lifetime. The prosecco was popping. The houmous was flowing (Waitrose’s own, no less). To our collective delight, the trip took an unexpected twist. Our route had Thorpe Park-level thrills on offer. We opted for the Islington Tunnel, which connects King’s Cross and Angel via a narrow opening (insert joke here). It looks like somewhere goth teenagers would go to have an engagement photoshoot. ‘If anything it felt like our closeness informed their lovemaking’ Picture this: the darkness had settled. Our patient captain turned on a string of sparkling fairy lights as we glided back to the narrow opening (ayo). The speakers were blasting the timeless nautical bop, ‘Under the Sea’, from Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’. Suddenly, we spot a couple on a canalside bench, mere inches away. A picture-perfect scene: two people madly in love, one holding a bouquet of flowers. They are also nonchalantly engaging in full oral sex. Our proximity did not bother the couple. If anything it felt like our closeness informed their lovemaking. I will never forget all of us standing there, plastic champagne flutes in hand, in stunne

What to do in Jamestown, Accra’s coolest neighbourhood

What to do in Jamestown, Accra’s coolest neighbourhood

What’s the deal with Jamestown? One of the oldest and most historic districts in Accra, Jamestown is filled with visceral sensory experiences that can shock, delight, perplex and confront its visitors. Sitting right on the Gulf of Guinea coast, this densely populated traditional Ga fishing community is a labyrinth of streets and alleyways, constantly filled with the sounds of children playing, the smell of smoking fish mixed with thick ocean salt, and the ongoing activity and entrepreneurialism of a community that hustles hard. New hangouts are attracting creatives from Ghana and abroad, bringing art, live music, food and cocktails to Jamestown. It’s a bold, modern counterpoint to the colonial history that still speaks through the whitewashed and peeling walls of the forts that line the High Street, the large central lighthouse, and through the decaying yet beautiful colonial timber houses erected on stilts with shutters for walls. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world If you only do one thing… Jamestown Lighthouse. Photograph: Daniel Neilson  Check out the Jamestown walking tour is definitely worth checking out, which will take you to all the historic sites including Usher Fort and Fort James, former colonial administrative centres and slave holding forts, as well as Jamestown Lighthouse – be careful of your head on the way out the door. Go off the beaten track Jamestown and the surrounding area of Bukom produce more boxers per capita than any

What to do in Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël, Beirut’s coolest neighbourhood

What to do in Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël, Beirut’s coolest neighbourhood

What’s the deal with Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhaël? On Wednesdays at Riwaq, a cozy backstreet cafe in Beirut’s Mar Mikhaël neighborhood, locals and expats gather around a small stage for the city’s first and only weekly open mic. An Almaza beer or arak in hand, they encounter a diverse array of talent — from traditional oud players to young slam poets to storytellers in their 60s, performing in Arabic, English, and French. The scene embodies the spirit of Mar Mikhaël and the adjacent area of Gemmayzeh. Extending along Armenia Street and Rue Gouraud through northeast Beirut, the corridor is lined with bars, cafes, restaurants, and galleries, and has become a locus of art, youth culture, and nightlife in Lebanon’s vibrant capital. Its streets dotted with low-slung Art Deco buildings, it offers a glimpse of a bygone Beirut. At the same time, the area’s trendy eateries and galleries highlight the capital’s contemporary creatives. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world If you only do one thing… Sun or rain, take a self-guided tour of the local arts scene. Start at galleries like Artlab, Art on 56th, and 392rmeil393, which showcase various media by Middle Eastern artists. Then check out Plan BEY and Papercup for their prints, posters, zines, and crafty souvenirs. Soak up the sun Enjoy a coffee or cocktail and an argileh (Arabic for “hookah”) on one of the stairways connecting the area with Beirut’s higher neighborhoods. Don’t miss the St. Nicholas Stairs,

Meet the London-based Syrian refugee aiming to swim at the 2020 Olympics

Meet the London-based Syrian refugee aiming to swim at the 2020 Olympics

‘I am passionate about numbers and I love competition. Before I had to leave Syria, I studied accounting and finance at Damascus University. Coming to the UK was a long and difficult journey. I arrived in Glasgow two-and-a-half years ago on my own, at the age of 23. People in Scotland were very helpful, but the weather was a challenge! The Home Office soon transferred me to England, and after a year-long wait, I received my refugee status and moved to London. I stayed in a YMCA hostel for many months, surviving on my £5-a-day allowance. I did not speak English when I arrived, so it was a real struggle to try and find a permanent place to live and access the things I needed. I was fortunate to become friends with a lovely English family who invited me to stay with them in their home. Financial buildings and the rush-hour crowds of the city have always inspired me, and I aim to finish my finance studies by securing a place at King’s College London. I heard about the Breaking Barriers charity through some friends, and I have been working with them to prepare for my IELTS English exam and my university application, while also searching for funding. But accounting is just one of my dreams. After I came to London, I found some videos of Michael Phelps and his extraordinary journey to becoming the world’s greatest swimmer. His videos transported me to another world, and I challenged myself to become a great swimmer like him. I couldn’t swim before I came to the UK. In Syria, I had n

Wayne Kirven, style icon for 60 years and counting, tells his London story

Wayne Kirven, style icon for 60 years and counting, tells his London story

‘Someone once said to me, “If you’re not good looking, you’ve got to care about your clothes.” And as I’m not particularly good looking, I’ve always cared about clothes! I was born in 1945 in Mile End Hospital, and at first we lived with my grandfather in Globe Road, Bethnal Green. But then we moved out to Essex, which I hated. Every Saturday I’d get a bus or tube back into London to hang around at the Whitechapel Waste, which was a big secondhand market around the back of Whitechapel tube. While I was there, I always went to the shop Paul for Music, which stocked rare records imported from the US. I was only about 13, but that shop made an impression on me: you’d see these incredible people outside. I was in awe of the way they looked and their taste in clothes. So I started going where all these older people went: Barry’s Ballroom, off the Narrow Way in Hackney. Barry’s had initially been popular among smart Italians, but soon all the English guys were going there, too. It was my entry into the world of the modernist – this was before the term “mods” was around. At around this time, I started getting into clothes. I used to go to this guy called Flash, who was making shirts for people like Frank Sinatra and all the Jewish guys from the East End. I began working at a clothes shop called Sportique in Soho, which had been set up by the designer John Michael Ingram. Then I got a job with the tailors Hector Powe, who made stuff for the French designer Pierre Cardin – The Beatles

10 reasons we’re excited about the Curiosity Rooms

10 reasons we’re excited about the Curiosity Rooms

London is a city full of things to discover. But as the biggest, boldest, weirdest and wildest stuff out there loudly demands our attention, we can sometimes overlook the simple everyday things that make this city so damn special. To mark the launch of the Pixel 3, the folks at Google think it’s high time we opened our eyes to the beauty of the mundane. That’s why they’re opening the Curiosity Rooms (located a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus), a three-floor hub of free events, workshops, talks, pop-ups, experiences and installations. After all, Google is a company built on curiosity – and their Google Pixel 3 smartphone is designed to ignite your own curiosity and rediscover the extraordinary in the everyday. Here are ten things we’re looking forward to: The Slumflower 1. Hear inspiring talks Forget staying home reading the paper – instead, head to one of the Guardian Labs sessions where each weekend they’ll be hosting impressive interviewees like gal-dem founder Liv Little, asking them to bring an everyday object that represents an extraordinary moment in their lives. Another highlight is sure to be a talk from Emma Gannon (of Ctrl Alt Delete podcast fame); plus a talk from award-winning Peckham writer Chidera Eggerue, AKA The Slumflower. Things are going to get deep. View this post on Instagram A post shared by British GQ (@britishgq) on Oct 27, 2018 at 1:07am PDT 2. Peek into the world of glossy magazines Top dogs from Condé Nast will be popping down R

London mystery: exclusive banking?

London mystery: exclusive banking?

This week its the turn of our reader Sandra Sharma of Forest Hill. She asks, ‘I was walking down Fleet Street recently and spotted a sign that read ‘Messrs Hoare, Bankers’, with a golden bottle above it. Can anyone open an account here?’ Now hear this, Sandra… The bank you spotted is the only remaining independent private bank in London. Those that remain as subsidiaries mainly date back to the seventeenth century and are generally situated along Fleet Street and the Strand. At first, they were goldsmiths’ shops that accepted money from aristocratic families for safekeeping. Over time, the shops provided a service lending money, and by the eighteenth century, banking had become their main business. Hoare’s, at 37 Fleet Street, was founded in 1672 and is run by the Hoare family – there are still lodging rooms there, as the bank has retained the tradition of at least one partner always being on the premises. Also on Fleet Street, at No 1, is Child & Co, the oldest bank in Britain. Founded in 1559, it is now a private banking arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Child’s has cases of muskets in its banking halls, a precaution it took after the Gordon Riots of 1780 (and maybe handy today in case those anti-capitalist demos turn nasty?). The best-known private bank is Coutts, at 440 Strand, famous for its association with the Queen. It was founded in 1692 but today is also part of the RBS group. The royal connection dates back to the eighteenth century when banker Thomas Coutts acqui

London’s top 10 mysteries

London’s top 10 mysteries

1. What happened to Lord Lucan? Forget Jimmy Hoffa, a far more intriguing disappearance is this Belgravia toff, who bludgeoned his children’s nanny to death in 1974, before vanishing into the night. So dashing and debonair was Lord Lucan that he was even considered for the role of James Bond, and his shadowy fate remains the Stonehenge of modern London mysteries. Some think he committed suicide soon after fleeing London, but many others believe he fled abroad and has been living in disguise ever since. 2. Who was Jack the Ripper? Just last month an amateur sleuth claimed to have uncovered DNA evidence that finally nailed the Ripper’s identity (a key suspect called Aaron Kosminski). But within days other ‘Ripperologists’ (yes, that really is a thing) were slashing and gutting his theory just like, well, you know. So the mystery continues. There are still as many as 100 candidates for the sought-after role of Britain’s most famous serial killer, including the Queen’s physician, painter Walter Sickert and even a syphilitic Prince Albert. 3. Who was Shakespeare? Being remembered as the greatest playwright of all time? Pah! Who would want that as a legacy?! Certainly not the candidates put forward as the ‘real Shakespeare’ by ‘anti-Stratfordians’. This ragtag coalition of naysayers claim old Will wasn’t educated enough to compare anything to a summer’s day, and was in fact just a jobbing actor used as a front for another playwright who didn’t want the glory. To be a legendary wri

News (287)

Nine of the best ceramics made in London

Nine of the best ceramics made in London

You don’t need us to tell you that ceramics are big news right now. Your flat is probably already full of tastefully wonky fruit bowls and candle holders. But while it’s cheap, easy and very tempting to impulse-buy nice pottery from every big generic online store that finds you on Instagram, let us lure you away from the mass-produced numbers and towards the handmade work of some very talented locals. A new wave of London potters are making ceramics that are so unique they’re basically little pieces of art. Think: designs with geometric paintwork, layered glazes, bright block colours, unusual structures and loads of unexpected texture, from Bisila Noha’s marbled pots to Jacqueline de la Fuente’s pink lumpy lads. Sure, many are definitely investment buys but they’re statement pieces that you’ll keep so long one of your great-grandkids will end up calling dibs on them in your final days. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Bisila Noha (@bisilanoha) Bisila Noha Bisila's work is mostly wheel-thrown and she takes much of her inspiration from Japanese ceramics. 'I make ‘simple’ ceramic pieces that I use either as canvas for abstract landscapes or as the embodiment of my reflections and personal life stories,' she says.   View this post on Instagram A post shared by GIUSEPPE PARRINELLO (@giuseppeparrinelloceramics) Giuseppe Parrinello This east London-based maker does limited runs of 50

Charlie Mellor on why this year will be great for London restaurants

Charlie Mellor on why this year will be great for London restaurants

Restaurants are a vital ingredient in the complex recipe for culture in London. We curate experience, put art on a plate, pour stories into your glass – we design your escape to a more beautiful moment. We prime you pre-theatre and bring you jokes, a plate of pasta and a glass of wine on your otherwise mundane Wednesday night. We are the setting for some of the most special moments in life. Restaurants are magical. And now, we have returned. I cannot wait to have guests back in my dining room, ready to be cared for. I have so much exciting stuff to share with each of you. There is nothing like nearly losing everything to help you realise what is worth fighting for, and what can be left behind. Now we’re back, we’re stronger. This coming year can indeed be something rather special. I’ll caveat this by stating a fact: many of us are broke as fuck. We have our best plans laid and will put in a big effort to reopen with a bang, but we need you to order the grower champagne and that supplement course. Just say ‘yes’ to the wonderful things we have been dying to share with you. The hospitality industry needs patrons now more than ever.  It’s encouraging to see an increasing curiosity from restaurants and guests about the provenance of what we consume. Already this year I have seen some of the finest produce of my career from UK suppliers. We haven’t even hit the summer in all it’s bounteous glory, or that precious moment in early autumn where plucked game and wild mushrooms, stone

Black history landmarks to seek out around London

Black history landmarks to seek out around London

In terms of statues that celebrate Black history, there’s The Bronze Woman next to Stockwell tube station, which was created to honour Black women. There’s also the Mary Seacole statue next to St Thomas’ Hospital. It took 12 years to fundraise for it and there was a lot of opposition. That’s the only named statue of a Black woman in London. When it comes to men, there’s a statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square that was built in 2007. It was supposed to be in Trafalgar Square but Westminster Council said no. There’s also a bust of Mandela next to the Royal Festival Hall. It was put up in October 1985, when he was still in prison, but vandalised soon after, so they had to re-erect it two feet higher. It’s still there now. And there’s a bust of Oliver Tambo, Mandela’s right-hand man, in Albert Road Recreation Ground near Alexandra Palace. He lived in north London for years. There’s a long history in the UK of Black civil rights demonstrations. All Saints Road in Notting Hill was the headquarters of the west London Black Panthers. They’d meet at The Mangrove, a restaurant run by Frank Critchlow. He was an activist and had a lawyer stationed at the restaurant who’d give free advice to Black men who’d been unfairly arrested. It’s closed now, but there’s a plaque there in honour of Critchlow. It was a centre of political activity and is a landmark for the Black community. ‘Black History Walks’ by Tony Walker (published by Jacaranda Books) is out on Dec 12.

Munya Chawawa’s guide to ditching your bad shopping habits this Black Pound Day

Munya Chawawa’s guide to ditching your bad shopping habits this Black Pound Day

I’m a scrimper. Yep, I’m a cheapskate, a miser, a man with an arse so tight it deserves a cameo in the ‘WAP’ video. I’m the guy who walks into a top-tier establishment and asks the waiter for a 125ml serving of its finest tap water. However, over lockdown, I became a deranged spending machine. Susan from Halifax’s anti-fraud team has been in meltdown: how did Munya Chawawa transform from the Holy Father of Frugal to The Wolf of Reckless Spending? The culprit: the internet – an infinite sea of objects and accessories at one’s fingertips. Seriously: a transparent kettle that emits blue light during boiling? Yes, please. Novelty false teeth for a one-off Insta story? Absolutely – they’re a business asset. A foot scraper that looks suspiciously like an actual cheese grater? No-brainer – chicks dig smooth heels. Suddenly my bedroom looks like the promo pic for a new Channel 5 doc called ‘The Hoarder Next Door’. Photograph: Naomi Anderson-Subryan If you’re going to put pennies into someone’s pocket, put your spend where that makes a difference. It’s been a really tough year for small businesses – and I don’t want to see them go broke just because I cba to shop smarter. Slowly but surely, I’m making changes, so here are my tips on shopping smaller and supporting indies: 1. If there’s an item you want, check on Google whether there’s a place selling it locally. You may end up turning a two-day delivery into a two-minute walk, and your hard-earned cash goes straight to the seller. 2

June Sarpong: ‘We need to look back to leap forward’

June Sarpong: ‘We need to look back to leap forward’

As we learn to deal with the devastation and uncertainty of a global pandemic and the racial reckoning we see unfolding on the streets of the US, UK and beyond, it feels like the world is at a crossroads. And that includes London. The noughties definitely felt like an upward trajectory for the city, characterised by opportunity and aspiration. London was quickly becoming the international capital of the world, where people from all different backgrounds were able to feel at home. Difference was not something to hide. It was exciting, vibrant and valuable – something that our Olympic bid team found out in 2005. Winning the right to host the Games, not just in London but in Newham, the borough of my birth, was a moment that, to me, felt comparable with the election of Barack Obama – something that would previously have been thought of as impossible. It was a moment of personal and communal pride. To be part of The Legacy List, the official charity for the redevelopment of the Stratford area after the Olympic Games, was an incredible privilege and an honour. We need to teach Black history properly However, in just over a decade, my city and my country started to feel very different. That burning optimism and resilience symbolised in the Olympic flame had seemingly burned out or even been extinguished. Where the spectre of terrorism had failed to divide us, it seemed that inequality and identity would prove a far more potent force. Difference had become divisive. So, where does L

Chef James Cochran shares his favourite Black-owned restaurants in London

Chef James Cochran shares his favourite Black-owned restaurants in London

1. Kate’s Café Tucked away in Plaistow, this simple spot is worth travelling to – and not just for its extensive list of tasty gin cocktails. The real draw? The British and Ghanaian fusion menu here is a mega who’s who of every African comfort carb: plantain, yam, rice, fufu – you name it. 174 Balaam St, E13 8RD. 2. Island Social Club Photograph: Island Social Club Marie Mitchell and Joseph Pilgrim have created an inclusive space with Island Social Club. The duo run food projects around the city – from storytelling supper clubs to their bright and airy Haggerston pop-up – all with the aim of helping people connect to British Caribbean culture. And they serve up some great rotis too. Various venues. See www.islandsocialclub.com for details. 3. Alhaji Suya This Nigerian spot specialising in suya (grilled seasoned meat) makes a welcome change from the copy-and-paste chains you’re more likely to see in Greenwich. Its menu is small but succinct: you can choose between beef, chicken or ram suya – boneless or on the bone. You can also get kilishi here – a version of jerky that originated in Hausaland – if you’re looking for even more protein gains. Unit 15, Angerstein Business Park, SE10 0RT. 4. The Tramshed Project Photograph: The Tramshed Project I met Dominic Cools-Lartigue around a year ago. He’s a pioneer of the street-food scene – he was the original founder of Street Feast – and he’s also an avid supporter of Black Lives Matter. That’s why I teamed up with him on this

David Lammy: ‘Shopping is not a neutral act’

David Lammy: ‘Shopping is not a neutral act’

Over the past five months, I’ve received countless emails from people asking me what they can do to be effective allies in the struggle for racial equality. Most commonly, I’m asked to recommend books that can help people understand, navigate and challenge their own structural privilege. If there is anything that gives me hope that history is being made right now, it’s that so many people are determined to be on the right side of it. Black literature, however, is not the only thing that I’d encourage people to consume. Even before the pandemic, opportunities for Black businesses were slim. Black-owned businesses are four times more likely to be rejected for loans. Black victims of fraud are more than twice as likely to be denied a refund by their banks. All minority ethnic groups are subject to higher interest rates. Put your money where your mouth is and support Black-owned businesses in your area Pre-existing funding gaps and financial prejudice already represented a toxic combination. Throwing a global pandemic into the mix created a truly poisonous blend.  Nearly two thirds of Black and Asian business  owners said they were unable to access state-backed loans and grants in the early days of the  pandemic. This is just one reason why Britain’s 250,000 minority-owned businesses have been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus crisis. Typically concentrated in urban areas that have been hit hardest by lockdown restrictions, Black- owned businesses are bea

Flock Together: meet the London birdwatching group for people of colour

Flock Together: meet the London birdwatching group for people of colour

Illustration: Alva Skog Everyone benefits from being in nature. It’s an opportunity to breathe. We’re glued to our phones and bombarded with hecticness on social media. The headlines can be daunting. Exploring nature allows us to escape – and right now, everyone needs that escapism. I’ve been birdwatching for about seven years. I was drawn into it when I had a very stressful job. It was therapeutic. In May this year, I was out birdwatching and I posted some photos on Instagram Stories. Someone started replying and naming all the birds. I clicked on their profile, expecting to see the traditional birdwatching person, and it was [Flock Together co-founder] Nadeem Perera. He said he was an avid birdwatcher. I asked where he lived, thinking he’d say the Lake District or something, and he said Stoke Newington. I was like: I live in Clapton! We decided to set up a birdwatching club. We made a flyer for our social channels and we had so much interest. We did our first walk on Walthamstow Wetlands with about 15 people. Outdoor activity, especially birdwatching, has been presented as a space for white people: we’ve all got the image of the khaki-wearing, middle-aged white male. If that’s the image that’s forced upon you, you feel it’s not for you. We had 74 people on our last walk before lockdown. It’s unlocking something. We’ve been all over the place – Walthamstow Wetlands, Richmond Park, Lee Valley, Epping Forest, Bushy Park. We are fortunate in London to have so much green space.

Loyle Carner: ‘Having access to green space should be a human right’

Loyle Carner: ‘Having access to green space should be a human right’

The term is ‘urban greening’ but really it’s just ‘greening’. It’s taking a place that’s grey and making it green, taking a place that’s been unloved and planting life into it – giving the local community something to feel pride in. It could be anywhere: somebody’s balcony, the roof of an estate, the back of a school. I think having access to green space should be a human right. If you live in an estate on top of six family members and you don’t get that time to look after your mental health, then it’s going to drastically affect the way you move forward. I grew up in Croydon and it was quite green where I was, but if you went into the centre, it was all grey. Where I went to school was all grey. My mum helped me understand the correlation between being outside and feeling good. Illustration: Bárbara Malagoli It’s always something I’ve been interested in, so I put a message out on Twitter and said: I want to do some urban greening, where do you think needs it? I wanted to do it in south London. I felt it was important to focus on the area I grew up in. People sent over loads of places and one of them was Thornton Heath. I used to go to the leisure centre there, so I knew it well. It was super-grey. Yo I’ve been looking into this thing called urban greening lol. Where you take a space that’s run down, kinda concrete jungle and turn it into a green space for the community. Can anyone think of a spot that needs it? Preferably in south London — Loyle (@LoyleCarner) July 1

‘Just know you’re doing your best and that’s good enough’: advice from a veteran on lasting lockdown

‘Just know you’re doing your best and that’s good enough’: advice from a veteran on lasting lockdown

Army veteran Paul Colling was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan before a traumatic leg injury left him in near-constant pain. Once back in civilian life, he was devastated by the vast change to his future. He spent months in bed after surgeries – his own personal lockdown – and his mental health deteriorated to the point where he considered ending his own life. Thankfully, aid from Help for Heroes and his friends and family got him through. Here he reflects on what he learned coming through that trauma and offers advice to those furloughed, on the frontline or struggling mentally on how to get through hard times.   Keep focused ‘I’m an expert at being at home and staying focused. Over the years I’ve had surgery that’s left me in bed for six months at a time. My tip if you’ve been furloughed is to make Monday to Friday different to the weekend. For me, at the moment, that’s getting up at 7am – or a time I set for the week – and walking my dog first thing in the morning. Then I’ll do a little workout in the house. That lets me still know its a weekday. I keep my days filled and busy with positive things so that I don’t have time for my mind to wander down a depressing route. Then at the weekend I give myself time to rest and take in everything. I get up, I’ll eat what I want, I won’t train, I won’t walk the dog at a set time.’ Stay connected ‘As hard as it sometimes feels to pick up the phone, talk to people. I’m not very good at picking up the phone so gaming is really import

One staff member recalls the highs and lows of Ice Bar, which has just announced its permanent closure

One staff member recalls the highs and lows of Ice Bar, which has just announced its permanent closure

Bartender Aksana worked at Ice Bar in Mayfair for 12 years. As the bar shuts, she reflects on her time there We got a really mixed crowd at Ice Bar. During the day we usually mostly got tourists who popped in after strolling around shopping, but on the weekends we got hen parties, stag dos and birthdays. Americans were my favourite customers as they’re up for a laugh and usually make repeat visits. They got really excited about the ice, which is a more pleasant reaction to see than people who are unimpressed. You’re more likely to go the extra mile for a customer who is positive. There have been some crazy antics in here. One guy tried to use his bum cheeks to leave a mark on the wall by standing against it naked for ten minutes and actually succeeded. We have also had a few people getting sneakily undressed under the capes customers have to wear to keep them warm, before stripping off in front of everybody. Often, hen dos would turn up with dildos and massive balloons, but they’re not allowed to take them inside the bar. They’ve usually been okay with it, but it makes the reception look hilarious. We’ve had occasional bad behaviour. We had some guests once who started smashing their glasses when they finished their drinks – although they’re made out of ice, the shards can be dangerous if people step on them or it can be slippery and they might fall, so we had to ask them to leave. We had people be sick in the bar and even pee in the ice because they’re so drunk. We had to qu

We spoke to a London scientist who’s on a mission to develop a coronavirus vaccine

We spoke to a London scientist who’s on a mission to develop a coronavirus vaccine

Professor Robin Shattock is head of mucosal infection and immunity in the department of medicine at Imperial College London. He and his colleagues are working to create a vaccine to tackle coronavirus. Having spent decades searching for a HIV vaccine, he is a man on a mission to rid us of disease. Making a vaccine that the whole world is waiting for is exciting and invigorating. There’s an opportunity to do something meaningful, but the challenges of making it globally available are pretty daunting if you stop to think about them. I’ve spent at least 20 years working on an HIV vaccine. I still think making one will be one of the biggest biological challenges of a generation. When this virus started to appear we discussed as a group whether to make a vaccine. We went from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ in nine days. We haven’t had a dull day since then. We’ve already got encouraging data. One good thing about this virus is that there doesn’t seem to be great diversity, compared to something like HIV, which has different strains around the globe. There are at least 35 different vaccines being developed. Any one of those including ours could hit the buffers at some point, but having all these different approaches will hopefully mean success. We have funding for the first stage; we hope to confirm the first clinical study soon, too. Science is competitive, but we’re racing against the virus, not each other. Everybody would like to be the one that makes the vaccine, but if we fall by the wayside b

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