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November 26, 2008

Squatters take over £6m Mayfair house


"Squatting is not a criminal offence in British law, but a civil matter, and if squatters remain for 12 years, and no attempt is made to evict them, they can become the property's legal owners."

I find that fascinating.

I happened on it in Andy McSmith's November 8, 2008 Independent (UK) story, which follows.

The caption under Jeremy Selwyn's photo up top (which accompanied the story) reads, "Squatters outside the property at 18 Upper Grosvenor Street, where the black anarchist flag flies from a balcony."

    Squatters take over £6m Mayfair house

    An elegant Mayfair property valued at more than £6m (even in today's depressed market) has been occupied by anarchist squatters. The penniless youths from the self-styled Da! Collective have become neighbours to some of the wealthiest individuals, swankiest restaurants and well-heeled businesses in the country.

    The Grade II-listed, five-storey building with 9,000 sq ft of floor space, at 18 Upper Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, belongs to the Duke of Westminster, Britain's wealthiest private landlord, and is leased to a property firm registered in the British Virgin Islands. It now carries a black anarchist flag, flicking in the breeze.

    Five squatters made their entrance last month by donning high-visibility jackets, to make them look like builders, and putting up a rented ladder against the front of the building. One man climbed up on to a balcony, and was delighted to find an unlocked window.

    They have since connected up to the utilities, and say that they will pay their energy bills. Bedding paraphernalia, rucksacks and "artworks" cover the floors. The new tenants feed themselves by rummaging in bins. They claim that far from damaging the house, they are improving it after years of neglect, and deny that they are breaking the law.

    "Other people can come here," one of the squatters, 21-year-old Stephanie Smith, said. "We want people to use it as project space. People can work here, stay wherever they want."

    The building was the headquarters of the Iranian-born property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz until 2005, when his Consensus Group moved into bigger premises in Park Lane. The house is considered big enough to accommodate a firm employing 310 staff.

    Throughout its 250-year history, Upper Grosvenor Street, near Hyde Park, has been considered to be one of the most desirable residential areas of central London.

    No 18 is one of only 15 of the street's original houses, built in the 1730s, still standing. Its former owners include a colliery owner, F Wooton Isaacson, and a Scottish landowner and Conservative MP, Sir Victor Warrender.

    In addition to the US embassy around the corner in Grosvenor Square, the street houses the consulate general of Monaco and the offices of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board. An empty two-bedroom flat near the anarchist squat is up for sale for an asking price of £1.65m.

    A City law firm has been engaged by the official tenants, Deltaland Resources, to reclaim the property. Squatting is not a criminal offence in British law, but a civil matter, and if squatters remain for 12 years, and no attempt is made to evict them, they can become the property's legal owners.


[via Milena]

November 26, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Radio-Controlled Key Finder


From the website:

    Radio-Controlled Key Finder

    Are you forever rifling through pockets, drawers and sofa cushions looking for lost keys?

    Spare yourself the misery with this advanced Radio-Controlled Key Finder.

    The fob receiver attaches to your keyring, the credit-card transmitter lives in your wallet or purse.

    To locate keys just press the button to make the fob bleep and flash.


    • Range up to 80 feet

    • Fob: 6 x 3 x 1.5cm

    • Batteries included


November 26, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google SearchWiki: Way above my TechnoDolt™ pay grade — but not yours

Unveiled last week, it offers "... a way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results."

November 26, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roger Vivier Rose 'n' Roll


Wool tartan with lacquered rose-thorn stem heel, part of the new fall/winter 2008/9 collection.

£830 at Vivier stores.

November 26, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Werner Herzog's 'Fata Morgana'


I found it boring — and I loved it.

Does that sound messed up?

I can't explain how the two conflated themselves into a wonderful viewing (on DVD) and listening experience and I wouldn't recommend this movie.

So I'm breaking my pretty much absolute rule for the past few years here of never saying anything bad about stuff but instead simply ignoring it.

Because one wonderful thing came from my contact with this film: about halfway through, Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" came on the soundtrack, as the camera panned across the endless lower Sahara Desert where the film was shot.

My only experience of this song is having heard Judy Collins's and James Taylor's renditions, back in the day.

The one used in the movie sounded nothing like those, rather, it was kind of scratchy and wry in tone, exuding a sense of wonderful hopelessness.

Who's singing that, I wondered?

A little research online was in order since the next morning when I looked for the DVD I couldn't find it, even after a really intense hunt.

Must've fallen into anesthesia hyperspace, even though I was at home.

Maybe I carry a bit of it with me wherever I go.

No matter, I woke up my crack research team and told 'em to get on it.

A few hours later they reported that the version on the movie soundtrack was Leonard Cohen's, from his album "The Essential Leonard Cohen."

Nice work, team.

I went to Amazon to order the CD ($14.99) and I noticed that along with letting you listen to a bit of the song free (right here) the site offers the songs as MP3 files for 99 cents, download instantly with 1-Click.

That sounded too easy but what the heck, I'm up for anything so I clicked on the little button and voila — in about two seconds the song started downloading and in about 15 more seconds there was the MP3 file on my desktop, where it sits now on endless replay.

Is technology great or what?

I can even send it to people as an email attachment.

Way cool.

Back in the day everyone loved Leonard Cohen but I don't believe I'd ever heard him sing anything until I watched Herzog's film.

I'd actually read about "Lessons of Darkness" and ordered it and only learned of "Fata Morgana" when I saw, on the front of the box (top), that it was included as a "Bonus DVD."

Lessons of Darkness, now that's something to conjure with.

Highly recommended.

November 26, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yakkay Soft/Hard Bike Helmet


The Danish company thought outside the lid/box


and came up with a clever take on head protection for the cyclist: a hard protective helmet (below)


with a series of inserts for a close fit that still lets cooling breezes through, topped with a fabric overlay that "... transforms the usual dorky dome into a fetching hat," wrote Mathew Honan in a review in the December issue of Wired magazine.


He added, "There are four styles [above and below], ranging from glamorista to Gilligan. A stainless-steel buckle adds some urban edge."


Bonus: Three of the four styles are available in a number of different fabrics and colors.


That's the good news.


The bad news: the two-piece helmet's currently available only in Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and the UK.


Oh, well.


It'll be around $165 when it finally makes its way across the pond.

November 26, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Typealyzer — 'MMPI for blogs'


The phrase up top in the headline is how the person who sent me a link to this site described it.

He's currently at an secure, undisclosed location in the lower 48 doing things that need doing.

No, not that kind of secure location.

Below, my psychograph.


The brains behind Typealyzer call it "automated psychographic text analysis.

Below, my brain on blogging.


Well, that explains everything.

November 26, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Official throw of bookofjoe


It's been a while since I featured any official gear so why not now, when it's getting nippy and time to curl up with something soft?

Chunky handweave, super-soft 100% acrylic.



November 26, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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