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Olympics London 2012: One Year On

London 2012 - How was it Front Cover

Editor of the new book London 2012 How Was It For Us? Mark Perryman wonders how much one year on Team GB transformed Great Britain as a nation

Many believe that London’s 2005 bid to host the Olympics bid was given the edge over the favourite, Paris, by Seb Coe’s passionate promotion of London as a multicultural city, a home to the world. As the bid presentation ended in Singapore Seb introduced on stage thirty youngsters “ Each from East London, from the communities who will be touched most directly by our Games.” This was on 6 July 2005. The very next day of course London would be rocked by explosions on the London Underground and bus system, 7/7. The juxtaposition couldn’t have been more dramatic, with many, too many, blaming the atrocities on the very multiculturalism that Seb had been celebrating as London’ virtue via the thirty star-struck youngsters beside him on the Singapore stage: “ Thanks to London’s multicultural mix of 200 nations, they also represent the youth of the world. Their families have come from every continent. They practice every religion and faith.” Continue reading…

Confederations Cup: Semi Finals

Tom Bodell’s on the Confederations Cup semi-finals.

After two more thoroughly enjoyable matches of the this year’s Confederations Cup, we have our finalists: hosts Brazil and World and European Champions, Spain. This should be an excellent tussle between arguably the two most impressive sides at the tournament, even if it means staying up into the small hours of Monday to watch the game. Continue reading…

Confederations Cup 2013: Stage 1

Tom Bodell looks back at the footballing highlights of an unexpectedly exciting first stage of the Confederations Cup 2013 played against a backdrop of an uprising in Brazil.

The Confederations Cup. It’s hardly a tournament to set the pulses racing; it rarely produces the kind of must-see matches that you plan to sit down and watch in advance and yet I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed and international tournament so much. Continue reading…

England U21s: Big Exit

Tom Bodell looks back at the aftermath of England’s poor showing at the European Championships in Israel.

The Under-21 European Championships in Israel might have provided some of the most uncomfortable viewing for England fans since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but they did at least serve one purpose: alleviating Stuart Pearce of his role as head coach. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Wembley Stadium 15 Jun 2013

Bruce Springsteen, Wembley Stadium, 15 June 2013

When Bruce says he is going to do “something special”, he means it. On his last visit to London earlier on this worldwide mammoth tour, which has now been rolling since March last year and will continue to Rio this September, he gave us an unexpected and majestic stripped down Thunder Road to Roy Bittan’s accompaniment. On Saturday at Wembley Stadium, once again he told his London audience he wanted to do something special, and he did, with a staggering set bestowed with gifts for his fans.

By the time he left the stage, after playing for approximately three hours and twenty minutes without a break, he was like a father consoling his upset children seeing their hero depart after giving them one of the great parties of their life so far, telling them in a soft voice that he’d be back in a couple of weeks. Continue reading…

Two Wheels Are Better Than One

Victoria Pendleton by Lilly Allen

With the Tour de France starting on 29 June Philosophy Football’s Mark Perryman argues cycling is part of a progressive society. (Picture by the illustrator Lilly Allen, commissioned by The Substantive).

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. – HG Wells Continue reading…

The Stone Roses, Finsbury Park (8 Jun 2013)

The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses are more than a band. They are movement. Their music, their attitude and their style has made them a badge of identity for many of us around a certain age. The thick end of their thin catalogue has continued to inspire on repeated listens over twenty-plus years, bringing to life dancefloors on indie nights, empowering listeners on headphones on public transport and through speakers behind closed doors. Continue reading…

Neon Neon, Village Underground (6 Jun 2013)

Neon Neon, Village Undergound

Continually inventive with two biographical electro-pop albums, Neon Neon have now taken the live music experience to another plane with their touring performance of Praxis Makes Perfect which celebrates and inspires through popular culture, while still getting the basics spot-on, by letting us all have a good dance to a brilliant sound.

Their third consecutive night at the Village Underground in Shoreditch was more much Performance Art than a run-of-the-mill Thursday night gig in London; an indication of what was to come came in an online invitation asking ticket-holders to wear an item of red and bring a copy of a favourite book to exchange with fellow gig-goes, referred to as “comrades”, ahead of the prompt 8pm start. And “comrades” seemed appropriate as once inside the atmosphere was both electric and unifying. Continue reading…

Billy Bragg, Royal Shakespeare Theatre (2 Jun 13)

Billy Bragg, Stratford-Upon Avon, Iowa T-Shirt

Stratford-Upon-Avon was an appropriate setting for the start of the UK leg of our own modern day touring musical Shakespeare, Billy Bragg. With a rich back catalogue to compliment his most recent material and the ability to speak charismatically at length, alternately sharing new anecdotes and inspiring his audience on the hot topics of the day (with a few puns, pop culture references and punchlines thrown in), he is always worth seeing live, be it at festivals, bookshops, record stores or his own gigs.

As the Bard of Barking came to Shakespeare’s town on a beautiful day, the sun came out, the trees began to sing and half-way through what was the final day of the Stratford-Upon-Avon Arts Festival, steel brass bands played in Bancroft Gardens outside the venue; in the afternoon and early evening leading up to gig, the market stalls were out, there was dancing in the park, pub gardens were packed and scores of people from different backgrounds wandered through the streets of Stratford, including the man himself (pictured above). Who said Society doesn’t exist? Continue reading…



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