Month: June 2015


Oxford English Dictionary Gets a Little ‘Twerk’

We’ve been doing it at the Notting Hill Carnival every summer, even as far back as 1820 according to the wordsmiths at the Oxford English Dictionary. Twerk, that is, but it is only now that the word has finally ‘twitched’ and ‘jerked’ its way into the latest refresh of the OED. Researchers found the word, one of 500 new dictionary entries, was first spelt ‘twirk’, described as a ‘twisting’ or ‘jerking’ movement or ‘twitch’. The verb is believed to have resurfaced in 1848 and the twerk spelling was in wide usage by 1901. American pop singer Miley Cyrus brought the dance to mainstream consciousness in 2013 at an MTV awards show as she gyrated in skimpy attire on stage. The OED describes twerking as dancing “in a sexually provocative manner, using thrusting movements of the bottom and hips while in a low, squatting stance”. Twerk may have even been borne out of a combination of the words twist or twitch and jerk, the dictionary says. Fiona McPherson, senior editor of Oxford English Dictionary, said: “We are confident that it …


Serpentine Pavilion 2015 is Plastic Fantastic

The Serpentine Gallery has exploded in a rainbow of colours for the 15th anniversary of its popular Pavilion commission. This year’s ‘starchitects’, Spanish duo  Jose Selgas and Lucia  Cano, partners in Selgascano have chosen light, colour and playfulness to mark the milestone. Selgascano’s design is an amorphous, double-skinned, polygonal structure made up of translucent panels, multi-coloured fluorine-based polymer (ETFE) woven and wrapped like webbing. The gallery might need to keep an eye on its inquisitive younger visitors who will no doubt be tempted to pull or tug at the array of colourful tapes that swaddles the structure. Secret Corridor Discover the ‘secret corridor’ between the outer and inner layer of the structure into the Pavilion’s colourful interior. You might sense the similarity between meandering through London’s underground system with its many layered, chaotic but structured flow. You are immediately enveloped by a sense of fun, a kaleidoscope of shimmering colours even on a dank London day. “We are also very much aware of the Pavilion’s anniversary in our design for the 15th annual commission. The …

A man chats on his phone beside a painting on a wall in Portobello Road, west London

Home is Where the Art is

The formula is straightforward and simple. Assemble an assorted mix of talented and hospitable artists in different media willing to throw their doors open to complete strangers and you have the Artists at Home show now in its 40th year. This year 52 pop-up exhibitions await you across Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush comprising 68 artists delighted to welcome you to their houses, studios and flats, to view paintings, glass-making, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, photographs, textiles, and jewellery. This year for the first time every studio will be open on the Friday evening’s first show date. There is a Map to help you plan your visits to the artists that appeal to you. A tip from the organisers: “Don’t forget the houses that seem a bit isolated – they are always worth the extra travel!” What is AAH? Artists at Home is an annual open studios scheme held over 3 days in mid-June. AAH is run on a voluntary basis by the artists themselves. It began with just a few artists over 40 years ago, making …

‘Stowaway’ Falls to Rooftop Death

A suspected stowaway who is believed to have hid in the gear compartment of a jumbo jet as it approached Heathrow Airport has fallen to his death in a west London suburb, while another is in hospital. The two men are believed to have been clinging to a British Airways flight from Johannesburg. The victim was found on the roof of the four-storey headquarters of on Kew Road, Richmond, at about 09:35 on Thursday. Police are treating his death as unexplained. The surviving man is said to be in a critical condition in a west London hospital. In a statement, the Met Police said: “At this time there is no evidence to link the death to the discovery of a stowaway in the undercarriage of a plane at Heathrow Airport; however this is one line of enquiry into identifying the deceased and the circumstances of his death.” The surviving man, believed to be aged 24, was found in the undercarriage of the plane at about 08:20 and taken to a west London hospital. Officers believe they know his identity …

A Muslim observes Ramadan

Long, Hot, Ramadan

Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month – which runs from 18 June to 16 July – has arrived in the middle of summer and there are fears that this year’s abstinence period could take its toll on its adherents. The holy month follows the lunar calendar and it is the first time in recent years it has come so late into the British Summer Time (BST) when daylight hours last for almost 19 hours. London’s estimated one million muslims could be fasting from sunrise to sunset with only about three hours to break their fasting with family and friends before continuing again. This year’s Ramadan is also predicted to affect at least a quarter of minicab and taxi drivers in London who will be stopping work once the sun goes down to mark Ramadan. The holy month commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to Islamic belief. Muslims worldwide are required to forego earthly pleasures and reconnect with their faith through a strict regime of fasting and prayers. Steve Wright, chairman of …

Terminator Genisys Fan Footage Event

Arnie’s Back … on a Boris Bike

Well, he did say he’d be back and true to his promise Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to London on Wednesday (17 June) on a clunky Boris Bike to the astonishment of many who clapped eyes on him during rush hour traffic. He was in the capital to promote his latest film, Terminator Genisys at west London’s Vue Cinema and to meet his adoring fans. He signed autographs, posed for selfies and seemed to be having a whale of a time. Meanwhile, Arnold @Schwarzenegger spotted riding Boris bike around London this morning. — Jack Stubbs (@jc_stubbs) June 17, 2015 Earlier he went on the tourist trail taking in Piccadilly Circus which he thought was “Piccadilly Square”. He later posed beside Winston Churchill’s statue and in front of Buckingham Palace. He quipped to his fans in a Snapchat footage describing his sightseeing and his love for two wheels, “We’re in London on a little bicycle ride, I always get my morning exercise with an hour on the bike.” The former champion bodybuilder and California …


When Flotus Met Harry

America’s first lady, Michelle Obama who is on a two-day visit to London has visited Kensington Palace for tea with Prince Harry. She discussed her Let Girls Learn initiative she set up in March and the welfare of army veterans and their families. It is the first recorded official visit to the Prince’s official London residence which he shares with his brother, the Duke of Cambridge and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge. Prince Harry was interested to hear from @FLOTUS about the #LetGirlsLearn initiative to further adolescent girls' education around the world — Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) June 16, 2015 Kensington Palace later gushed: “Prince Harry was very pleased to host Mrs Michelle Obama @FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States as she is affectionately known in the US) for tea at Kensington Palace this morning.” Mrs Obama was accompanied by her two daughters Sasha and Malia on the trip to west London. Prince Harry first met Mrs Obama at the White House when he visited America in 2013. They both share a passion for …

Honours list

Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015: Redmayne & Lampard Made OBEs

Eddie Redmayne, best actor Oscar winner and former Chelsea and England international Frank Lampard have been recognised in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours List. Lampard was awarded an OBE in recognition of his sterling football career at Chelsea where he netted 150 goals making him the club’s most prolific goalscorer from midfield. He described it as an extremely proud moment for him and his family. Redmayne was awarded an OBE for a career-defining role playing scientist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He lives in Chelsea with his wife Hannah Bagshawe. Paddington Bear author Michael Bond, 89, was made a CBE for his most famous chronicles of the adventures of a Peruvian Bear which has been translated into many languages and was made into a film last year. The marmalade-loving and duffle coat wearing bear who became lost at west London’s Paddington train station has become one of  London’s most recognised faces.


Gourd of the Apes: Meet the Champagne Chimps

They are our closest cousins and it has now been proven they also share our propensity for a good bottle of red. Scientists who conducted the research study at Bossou in Guinea West Africa found wild chimpanzees had adapted their behaviour to consume palm wine, a local tipple fermented at the top of palm trees inside improvised plastic gourds. The study – published in the journal Royal Society Open Science –  also showed African apes and humans share a genetic mutation that enables them to digest alcohol. It had been once thought only humans engaged in the voluntary and social consumption of alcohol until this discovery. The scientists found evidence of the long-term and recurrent consumption of fermented alcohol from the raffia palm (Raphia hookeri, Arecaceae) by primates from 1995 to 2012. Chimpanzees at Bossou also consumed this alcoholic beverage, often in large quantities, despite an average presence of alcohol of 3.1% alcohol by volume rising to 6.9%. Raffia palms, which occur naturally in seasonally flooded areas are traditionally tapped by locals close to the crown of mature palms, …