diamond geezer

 Tuesday, March 17, 2015

• With around 50 days to go to the General Election, you may already be tired of hearing politicians promising little whilst accusing others of promising too much. Much more interesting/worrying is what it might all mean, and who might end up in power propped up by who. For daily updates on what the polls say, check out Ian's ukgeneralelection.com or the New Statesman's comprehensive May2015.com, or keep an rolling eye on how the numbers add up at electionforecast.co.uk. [the latter is currently predicting Conservatives 286, Labour 274, SNP 42, Lib Dem 25, UKIP 1]
• Time was when Top 40 chart positions were everywhere for a week, then became closely guarded secrets, accessible only by shelling out for the Guinness Book of Hit Singles every couple of years. That's until this month when The Official Charts Company unexpectedly launched a complete UK Charts Archive stretching back to 1952, listing every singles and albums chart ever, all the way down to number 40 (and beyond). Here for example is the singles chart from 50 years ago (It's Not Unusual) [but be warned, the dates given don't necessarily coincide with the dates the chart was live at the time, they're often "week endings"]
• I was in my teens when I first watched La cabina, a short Spanish horror film about a man who steps into a phone box and regrets it. The BBC only ever broadcast it once, but YouTube brings the slow burning terror to the smartphone age. It could surely never happen now. [director Antonio Mercer, 1972]
• With the rambling season nearly upon us, where precisely are the steepest hills near London? [for a broader picture, this OS map pinpoints all the Marilyns, Peaks and Minor Tops in the southeast]
• With apologies to Richard Scarry, the Tumblrfolk at Business Town are slowly revealing what value-creating winners do all day. [The Thought Leader articulates bleeding-edge insights within a relevant cultural narrative]
• It's English Tourism Week, an annual understated attempt to kickstart the sightseeing season. The City of London is running a few free walks and tours, mostly at weekday lunchtimes, or you could try Londonist's Self-Guided Food And Drink Tour by stepping through a password-protected observation quiz in the field [includes cut-price gin]
• What did your neighbourhood look like around the middle of the 20th century? If you live in the TQ grid square (that's London and a fair amount of the Home Counties), the National Library of Scotland have made available a set of 1:1250 maps to explore and expand. For historical research, or just plain mooching, this lot could be invaluable. [includes other locations and other scales, and twin-scrolling maps] [for example here's the Festival of Britain, here's the Dome, here's Wembley Stadium, here's Television Centre and here's Watford town centre]
• For a smart cartographical simplification of the capital, the London Squared Map depicts our city borough by borough.
• Or if you'd rather, dive into the UK & Ireland Rail Map Online, detailing the path of every railway line old and new across the country.
• If concrete is your thing (hi Dad), or if you could happily fill an afternoon ogling brutalist imagery, rejoice that the entire back catalogue of Concrete Quarterly is archived all the way back to 1947 and is freely available. [from Spring 1965, for example, enjoy the Royal College of Art, Automation on the Preston-Lancaster Motorway, Shell Roofs for Cape Town market, and A House At Harpenden]

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