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London Letter: Silence In Court - And Mind Your Spelling

...Judge David Paget flew into a rage at the Old Bailey after being presented with a charge sheet with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. He bemoaned declining standards of written English and described an official from the Crown Prosecution Service as ”an illiterate idiot”. In the papers the official had consistently misspelt the word “grievous” four times accusing the defendant of “greivous bodily harm”....

Trust Britain's oldest columnist 96-year-old Henry Jackson to bring you the choicest snippets of news from London every week.

To read more of Henry's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/london_letter/

Thousands of passengers were forced to jet off on holiday this morning without their luggage after a major computer glitch caused travel chaos at Heathrow Airport Another 6,000 were locked out of Terminal Three after a fault in the check in system fed to computer screens.


Top London restaurants are bringing back a strict formal dress code and casual dress will no longer be accepted. A jacket with button up shirt and tie will be required and anyone wearing an open neck shirt or sweater will be turned away. Flip flops and trainers are also on the banned list.


The Metropolitan Police is holding a road safety day for cyclists in Richmond, Surrey, tomorrow. It aims to remind cyclists that if they are on the nearside of a lorry when it changes direction they may not be visible to the driver. Seven cyclists were killed in this manner in the London area last year.


People caught relieving themselves on the streets of the City of London will face a fine of £500 under new laws proposed by the City authorities. A big increase in the problem has been reported recently and late night clubbers bear most of the blame. The worst areas are reported to be The Minories, Watling Street, Shoe Lane and Smithfield Market. About 350,000 people work in the 53 miles of the City streets that is home to 9,000 residents. Some of the streets are cleaned up to nine times a day.


Westminster Council has banned sandwich boards and other advertising material from central London.


The water bill for the average Londoner will go up next year from £290 to £340.


Judge David Paget flew into a rage at the Old Bailey after being presented with a charge sheet with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. He bemoaned declining standards of written English and described an official from the Crown Prosecution Service as ”an illiterate idiot”. In the papers the official had consistently misspelt the word “grievous” four times accusing the defendant of “greivous bodily harm”.


Kitts Mbeboh, a Cameroonian diplomat, was stabbed to death at his home in Greenford, Middlesex. His 28-year-old son has been charged with murder.

Roberta Wang, the wealthy Taiwanese friend of Prince Charles, is suing her landlords for £700,000 after thieves raided her flat in Hill Street, Mayfair and stole antique family jewellery, seven Hermes Birkin bags valued at more than £37,000, a Cartier diamond ring valued a £30,350, a Chanel gold and diamond watch valued at £15,000 and Vuiton luggage valued at £5,880. They also took £10,000 in cash. Miss Wang claims that her landlords failed to repair or replace a faulty burglar alarm at the flat situated in an 18th Century listed building owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family. She also says that she has been forced to move out of her rented flat and live in a £863-a-night room at the Dorchester Hotel.


Te Mayor of London appealed to large companies in central London to open up their loos to the public to ease the shortage of public toilets.


Poems for Posterity

by Henry Jackson

If the candle flickers but there is no wind
Or the door bangs on a silent night,
Listen and count One, Two, Three
I will be there, it will be me,
I cannot count the days since we first met
I cannot count the hours,
All I know is that when I think of you
The world is made of flowers.


Today in History

1902. After the death of Queen Victoria Edward VII was crowned king.

1960. Cyprus declared its independence from Britain.

1996. Boris Yeltsin was elected President of Russia for the second time.


Famous quotes

Destruction like creation is one of Nature’s mandates---Marquis de Sade

I would rather be first in a village than second in Rome---Julius Caesar

Joy is not in things---it is in us---Richard Wagner

Shoot for the moon---even if you miss you will land among the stars -- Brian Littrell


The Women in My Life---7

(Last week I told about renting a flat from Wendy, a property developer and decorator, and how she promised me “an unforgettable experience”).

Read on…

“Would you like to go to Covent Garden and be the guest of a prima donna?” Wendy asked. Of course, I agreed without knowing what she was talking about.

“Amy has been a friend of mine for years”, she explained. “She has privilege tickets and we could go and see her in her dressing room as well.''

And that is how I met Amy Shuard, the Cockney soprano from Holloway, North London, who shot to operatic fame in the late 50s, married a Swiss doctor, and then died tragically from cancer at the height of her operatic career.

We arrived early at Covent Garden and chatted with Amy in the historic No 1 Dressing Room, had coffee that her husband poured into tiny delicate cups, and then had to dash when the alarm bells started ringing. I was overawed by the occasion and insisted that Wendy stopped for a drink in my flat when we went home. She left at 3 am after an evening of drama on and off the stage.

On another occasion Wendy took me to the most unusual party of my life. She had re-styled an old Italian restaurant in Euston Road before the developers changed the whole character of the area and the owner was holding a christening party for his first grandson. All the Soho hierarchy were there and in Italian style they brought handsome presents. As they were practical people who had worked hard all their lives most of them brought cheques.

The secret that everyone knew was that the son and his wife had failed to produce an heir to carry on the family business so, with the approval of the grandfather and the priest, the son had made the restaurant cashier pregnant and she had produced a son. Everyone knew all the details and everyone was happy with the arrangement.

The restaurant was cleared for the occasion and in the centre of the room at godfather and mother, then the son and his wife, then the real mother who was Irish and beautiful. She was holding the baby and acting as nurse for the occasion. Every guest had to take part in the social greetings and for two hours a line of soberly dressed friends, clients and business colleagues came to pay tribute.

Grandfather and I became instant friends and he later took me down to the cellars under Euston Road where he kept his prize collection of wine. He opened one very special bottle just for the two of us and we drank wine reverently under a dim unshaded single lamp and the light glinted harshly against the cobwebs and dust blanketing the chilly basement.

“Ssh!” he cautioned holding a finger to his lips. “Don’t tell nobody.'' And his eyes twinkled. “Young people no understand good wine today.''

After vowing eternal friendship with the entire family and the priest Wendy and I left and had a final drink in my flat. This time she stayed until 10 am.

I did not see her for a week when she telephoned and said that she had been working very hard and was going away for a rest. We did not meet for a month during which I made two very important decisions. The first was to buy an office block in Soho for my company and the second was to move from Paddington to Chelsea.

I rang Wendy and found out that she was back and told her the news.

“Would you like help with the decorating?” she asked. I said Yes and she came round the following evening. She looked slightly gaunt but smiled sweetly and we agreed on a fee. I gave her the usual gin and tonic and her hand trembled slightly.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“Yes,'' she replied. “I am now.''

“You said you were going away for a rest?”

“I lied to you. I was in hospital.''

“What was wrong?”
She never told me. The next day I had a call from Pat, her husband, who invited me for a drink. I was surprised because he had been a shadowy figure in the background and I thought that Wendy was clever enough to hide or explain our relationship. I assumed that our secret was safe.

Pat, who had started his working life on a building site, came straight to the point.

“Wendy wants to marry you,'' he said quietly.

I felt an earthquake explode and could not find a word to say.

(Continued next week)

A boy of 13 has been charged with possessing illegal firearms after police found a 9mm pistol hidden under the stairs at his home in New Cross, South East London. The pistol with two silencers and 20 rounds of cartridges is one commonly used by violent gangs. The boy is the youngest ever to face possession of a firearm.


London Underground maintenance workers are to go on strike for 72 hours next Wednesday and September 2 in a dispute over pay and conditions.


Gigi, the musical, is to return to the London stage with big name stars and will be performed in the Regents Park Open Air Theatre.


The first hotel in Europe to be made from modified shipping steel containers has opened in Greenford, West London. The 120 room Travelodge Hotel is built from 86 high strength steel containers which were constructed in China then transported to the Uxbridge site. It took 20 days to piece the containers together on the site where access for traditional building work was limited. Under the scheme each room’s fixtures and fittings were put in place in China before the containers were transported to the UK.


Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium closes tomorrow after 75 years. It has been sold by its owners, the Chandler family, to property developers. This leaves London with only two greyhounds tracks.


Zhen Liang, a 32 year old Chinese national living at Woolwich, South East London, was gaoled for three years for importing thousands of fake trainers into the country. Police recovered 17,000 from one address in South London. Liang, who arrived in the UK illegally in 2006, sold the shoes to wholesalers who sold them on to the public.

London motorists were handed 140,000 more penalty notices last year than the year before.

A van with three occupants was hit by a tree uprooted by high winds on Clapham Common, South West London, killing one man and injuring two more.

Five people were rescued by firemen when an early morning fire broke out in a row of shops and flats in Berwick Street, Soho, Central London.



Giles and family are on holiday in Antigua. They report that the place is full of Americans.


Friends & Family

Susan (Mid Wales)
On a visit to Mum and Dad who have decided to sell their little farm by the sea in Cornwall.


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