This England: The Newsreel! February 1.


On This Day: “The beginning is always today.”

English author Mary Shelley, who died in 1851


Routemasters driven out


We’re all used to waiting for buses. But now if you’ve been waiting to travel on an iconic Routemaster bus you’re in for the long haul.


Transport for London have announced (as reported by Ross Lydall in the Evening Standard) that from March 2 the 15H ‘heritage’ service, that gives everyone the chance to enjoy riding on a real 1950s Routemaster between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square, is only to run on weekends during the summer and Bank Holidays. This is despite pleas to maintain the current seven-day service.


Are they simply trying to preserve the vintage double-deckers for posterity to enjoy? Or is it a money issue as the move will reportedly save £800,000 per year?


Two heritage routes were launched in 2005 when Routemasters were phased out after 50 years of service. One, the H9, has already been axed, back in 2014. Is it only a matter of time before H15 goes the same way? That’s something we won’t be getting on board with…




Not-so-soft furnishings


Interior design company, Colefax and Fowler are still performing well since they were founded by Lady Sibyl Colefax in the 1930s. As reported in the Times, this week the listed company published its half year results showing that its group sales were up 7.8% at £45.38 million while its pre-tax profit rose 41% to £3.62 million. The company today owns a whole host of textile firms such as Jane Churchill and British furniture maker Kingcombe Sofas.


Still they didn’t reach such dizzy heights by always being nice, you know. The Times’s Dominic Walsh revealed in his ‘Business Big Shot’ interview with David Green (Chairman and Chief Executive of the Colefax Group) that the Duchess of Cornwall found out the hard way that this company was one to take seriously. Apparently as a young debutante in the mid-1960s, she was sacked after a very short-lived career for turning up late after attending a dance the night before. Ouch!



Long live Hooky street


It’s been 16 years since Only Fools and Horses graced our screens but Del Boy’s spirit is set to live on with the musical version of the hit BBC sitcom showing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from Feb 9.


As reported in the Evening Standard, it was a chance discovery of a forgotten song on an old cassette by Jim Sullivan (son to the show’s creator John Sullivan) that helped to inspire the West End musical. Lucky, eh? Or, as Del Boy would say, ‘Bonnet de douche!’ (meaning ‘excellent’ and not ‘shower cap’ for those of us who have forgotten the character’s marvellous way with the French language…)


All this is welcome news after reports that Nelson Mandela House in Peckham where the Trotter’s lived, is to be torn down to make way for new flats. Of course the tower block wasn’t really called Nelson Mandela House (but Harleck Tower) and it wasn’t even in Peckham (that’ll be Ealing), but it was still enough to outrage the good people of Britain who voted ‘Only Fools’ their favourite sitcom just last year.


We reckon Del would have a few choice words for Ealing Council who granted the planning permission. Namely, ’you plonkers!’



Bottoms up Blighty!


The French often like to poke fun at our culinary past but now one of their home-grown heroes has pointed out that it was actually the English who invented Champagne.


Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger head of the family producing the eponymous Champagne, made the claim in an interview with Le Figaro. ’Benedictine monks were supplying [the English] with still wines from Champagne… The English left these inexpensive still white wines on the London docks and the wines got cold so they started undergoing a second fermentation’. It was this second fermentation that produced the bubbles.


Taittinger even went on to say that the English ‘invented the consumption of Champagne as well as clarets from Bordeaux, Burgundy, cognac; in short everything that’s made the reputation of France in the world’.


Well we always knew that we had fine taste, didn’t we? Still, nice to hear the French agree too.



The return of the Fab Four?


A new film focusing on the infamous recording sessions where the Beatles came to blows is to be made by the Oscar-winning director, Peter Jackson.


As reported by David Sanderson in The Times, Jackson has been granted permission to use 55 hours of unseen footage from the January 1969 Let it Be sessions and is to restore it with the help of those who also worked on his acclaimed 2018 project, They Shall Not Grow Old, (a film telling the story of the First World War by the men who were there).


For many years the sessions have been considered pivotal to the band’s separation with tensions running high but Jackson has already put paid to any notion that this film is going to be just another study of the band’s spats. ‘I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth’, he said intriguingly. ‘Sure, there are moments of drama, but none of the discord this project has been associated with’. Time to change the record then!




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