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Tracey Emin LED Sculpture At Saint Pancras International Station in London

People entering the interior of Saint Pancras can now see a new LED sculpture by Tracey Emin, a twenty-metre message in bright pink saying “I want my time with you.”  Emin is a notorious and controversial modern British artist, whose most famous work is probably her bed, which she put on display at the Tate Gallery surrounded by empty vodka bottles and used condoms.

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Filling The Most Famous Empty Space In London - Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth

Blue Badge Tourist Guides who take their groups through the British Museum will often stop to point out some massive Assyrian sculptures before moving on to the nearby Parthenon Marbles. These represent the half-lion half-man figures guarding the entrance to the royal palace of King Ashurnasirpal the Second and were built in the ninth century BC. Now they can point out a modern version of the same creatures made from date syrup cans standing right in the centre of London – on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square.

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10 Facts About William Blake And The Poem Jerusalem

Most English people are familiar with the song Jerusalem which is a kind of unofficial national anthem for England - as opposed to God Save the Queen which is the official anthem for the United Kingdom as a whole. The words were written by the poet and painter William Blake, one of the great English eccentrics, a born and bred Londoner.

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The New American Embassy in London is Now Open

Blue Badge Tourist Guides, when they conduct a tour of London, often take the time to show their groups buildings and places which remind them of their own countries. This is a way of connecting with the group and makes them feel at home -even though they may be thousands of miles from where they actually live.

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The Queen Of Crime, Agatha Christie in London

Who is the best-selling writer in history after Shakespeare and the Bible? The answer is Agatha Christie who was born in Devon in 1890 but whose stories often feature London and who wrote what is the capital’s (and the world’s) longest-running play The Mousetrap, which is still playing at Saint Martin’s theatre sixty-five years after it opened. One of the original cast was the late Sir Richard Attenborough, who was paid partly with a share of rights from the play. These were never expected to be worth much but later in his career he was able to sell them to help finance his film about the life of Mahatma Gandhi starring Sir Ben Kingsley.

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Winnie The Pooh & Paddington - Britain's Best Loved Bears

Blue Badge Tourist Guides need to keep up with the latest cinema releases in order to make their tours relevant and up-to-date. One of the most interesting and popular films to come out this year was Goodbye Christopher Robin, the story of the creation of our best-loved bear Winnie the Pooh.  His position though may be threatened by Paddington, created by the late Michael Bond and also the subject of a recent film Paddington 2 which is currently doing good business at the box office.

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A Dickens Of A Christmas in London

More than anyone else, Charles Dickens invented the British Christmas with A Christmas Carol, his story about Ebeneezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. This book was first published in 1843 and has been adapted for stage and screen many times. Now a new film and exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum London celebrate this famous story.

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25 Years Since Windsor Castle Fire

One question Blue Badge Tourist Guides always seem to be asked when they take groups to Windsor Castle is “where did the fire take place?” It took place twenty-five years ago this month on 20 November 1992 on the Queen and Prince Philip’s forty fifth wedding anniversary during what the Queen later referred to as her “annus horriblis”, when the marriages of three of her children came to an end and the oldest royal home was engulfed in flames.

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Britain's Changing Money

The new £10 is the second plastic or polymer note issued by the Bank of England and features a portrait of Jane Austen. It follows the introduction of the first polymer note in September 2016, a fiver with a picture of Winston Churchill and an extract from his famous speech: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, tears and toil.’ The new twenty-pound note, with a portrait of a young J. M. W. Turner and a version of his painting of the Fighting Temeraire in the background will be released in March 2020. As yet no decision on a polymer fifty-pound note has been made and who would feature on it.

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Remembering Diana, Princess Of Wales

Twenty years after her death, the newspapers are full of memories and memoirs of people who came into contact with Diana, Princess of Wales. One of the most iconic figures of our time, Princess Diana was a much-loved woman who struggled to fit into the British Royal Family and ended up doing more to divide the royals from the British people than anyone since Oliver Cromwell.

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Harry Potter Is Twenty Years Old

The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997 with a hardback print run of just 500, each of which is now worth £40-50,000. Since then the seven Harry Potter books have sold nearly 500 million copies and the eight films based on these books have grossed £6.5 billion, making J K Rowling the world’s richest author with a fortune of around £600 million.

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Jane Austen Banknote Unveiled at Winchester Cathedral

The new Jane Austen ten pound note was unveiled for the first time at Winchester Cathedral on 18 July this year, the 200th anniversary of her death. The much-loved novelist was buried at the cathedral largely because of the influence of her brother Henry, who was an Anglican priest. Her epitaph was composed by another brother James who wrote of her ‘extraordinary achievements of mind’ but famously forgot to mention that she wrote Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.

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Visiting The Kilns - Home of C.S. Lewis

For a recent City of Oxford Tour, the group leader expressed an interest in visiting C.S. Lewis’s home. The Kilns is not on the tourist trail but an Internet search and a few emails led to a visit being arranged. We were shown around by Rachel, a young English woman who had lived in California and had the accent of a valley girl.

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British Royal Family Celebrates House of Windsor Centenary

On 17 July 1917, King George the Fifth declared that 'all descendants in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendants who marry or who have married, shall bear the name of Windsor.'

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Charlie Chaplin Blue Plaque Unveiled in South London

Charlie Chaplin, one of the greatest stars of early cinema, has been honoured with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former London home in Glenshaw Mansions on Brixton Road in Kennington. The blue plaque was unveiled by the British comedian and Chaplin admirer Paul Merton, Chaplin’s granddaughter Kathleen, a singer, was also present with her seven-year-old son.

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Shop London: An Insider’s Guide To Spending Like A Local

A new book titled Shop London: An Insider’s Guide To Spending Like A Local will be of interest to those seeking to discover unique shops in London. Written by Emma McCarthy, the deputy fashion editor of the London Evening Standard, the Shop London book handpicks more than 200 of the most talked about, tucked away and unique retail spots in the city, exploring both destination shopping areas, as well as specialist boutiques from homeware to children's wear.

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John Constable Exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

John Constable (1776 – 1837) came from the country to the capital, portrayed a calm, unchanging England and was devoted to one woman, whom he waited for, married and then mourned when she died from consumption after bearing seven children in nine years.

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The Redevelopment of the Art Deco Hoover Building in London

Coaches usually take one of three roads into/out of London - the M3, the M4 or the M40. I was coming back to London along the last recently and talked about football (soccer to our American visitors) as we passed Wembley and the Battle of Britain as we passed RAF Northolt and between the two I gave a mention to Art Deco architecture as we passed the Hoover Building.

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French Novelist Émile Zola Exiled in London

London, has (or had) a reputation for housing members of the international awkward squad. One exile was the French writer Émile Zola who arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July 1898 without any luggage or knowledge of the English language. He spent his first night at the Grosvenor Hotel and later moved to the more modest Queen’s Hotel in Norwood.

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The World's Most Famous Radio Broadcast Delivered by King Edward VIII

On the evening of 11 December 1936 King Edward VIII, having reigned for only 327 days, informed the world that he had abdicated in favour of his younger brother, who became King George VI. In his famous broadcast from Windsor Castle he said to the world: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

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10 Facts About Top Ranked Oxford University

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MG - The Poor Man's Porsche

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Statues of 6 American Presidents in London

Students and fans of American politics will be pleasantly surprised to find that dotted across London are seven statues of six American presidents. These can be discovered on a guided tour of London with a knowledgable Blue Badge Tourist Guide but I have highlighted below.

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Looking For England's King Richard III

Last November, fellow London Blue Badge Tourist Guides Tim Hudson and Jo Hoad organised us one early morning for an outing to look for the body and hear the story of Richard III at Bosworth and Leicester.  Richard was the last king of England to die in battle, the last Plantagenet monarch and, after a short reign of just over two years, died calling out "Treason! Treason!" not, as Shakespeare has it, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!"

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James Bond: Facts, Figures & Fun

Promotions for the new James Bond film Spectre is near fever pitch, so thought we'd provide some fun facts and figures about the British Secret Serice agent created by writer Ian Fleming while living in sunny Jamaica!  

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James Bond 007 Quiz - 20 Questions on the Books & Films

With the new James Bond 007 movie Spectre starring Daniel Craig set for release on 26 October, we thought we’d put together a quiz.  Specifically, below are ten questions each about the James Bond 007 books and films.  How many will you answer correctly?  

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Waterloo Sunset

My friend Phil Coppell, a Liverpool Blue Badge Tourist Guide, tells me that he took Ray Davies a member of the English rock band The Kinks on a Beatles tour some years ago. He queued up and paid for his ticket like everyone else and, during the tour, mentioned that he had originally set his song Waterloo Sunset in Liverpool but the line ‘Mersey Sunset’ did not scan and he moved it to London. He had always had a soft spot for Liverpool and said that whenever The Kinks played at the Cavern or other venues they always had a great reception.

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Turner Exhibition at Petworth House & Tate Britian

Joseph Mallord William Turner was not the most sociable of men but he found a true friend in George O'Brien, Third Earl of Egremont and owner of Petworth House in Sussex. The Earl was a sociable and generous aristocrat with a love of art, a large house and an open purse. Every year he had a party in the grounds of Petworth for the local community on his birthday and, when 6000 people turned up one time, he made sure they were all welcomed, fed and watered.

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