Tuesday Review #7: Good neighbours, Bar Italia, Celebrity on page one

Tuesday August 2, 2011 (no, it’s not Sunday)

* Camden Council has revealed what its new King’s Cross offices will look like. Ta-dah!, see right. Neighbours on the redeveloped railwaylands land will be the bank BNP Paribas. That’s the bank the Town Hall once owed a whole barrow of money too and those with long memories remember some awkward conversations about repayments. When the bank called in a loan soon after local elections in the 1990s, Labour councillors faced the heat of heading back to the electorate that had re-elected them and admitting promised projects wouldn’t be funded after all.

* A BIT of a Soho institution, Bar Italia revealed a new mural for its front window last week – capturing the hustle and bustle at its bohemian location in Frith Street. Lots to look at, but naturally I zoomed into the man reading a newspaper inside the cafe. Is it the Standard? Nooo. Is it the Metro? Nooo. It’s the soaraway West End Extra, of course – sister paper to the Camden New Journal. Natch.

* Thierry Henry was back at Arsenal on Sunday for a pre-season match. It was a bit like his testimonial, a chance to say thank you to his contribution to the team. His lap of honour was emotional stuff for those of us persevering with this supporting Arsenal thing. I’m still starstruck. Those who didn’t show for the party or left early have short memories.

* Last week’s Camden New Journal edition was dominated by the death of Amy Winehouse. Some people asked whether this was a diversion from our usual attempts rearguard against celebrity stories that have already been in the nationals. Remember, when George Michael crashed his car into Snappy Snaps in Hampstead – it was a news in brief item in our paper as others went overboard about it. The difference in Amy’s case was that while Amy Winehouse was so famous she would be recognised from Paris to New York to Tokyo to Sydney, she still sauntered around Camden Town like she was just another jobbing singer. There are mega famous people in this borough, but in the main they lock themselves away behind security guards and high walls. They are to a certain extent detached from Camden life. That couldn’t be said about Amy Winehouse, who was remembered in the cafes, the shops, the bars like a genuine local. And that’s why she commanded the extra coverage in our paper as well as the nationals. There was a different story to tell from the people of Camden Town – and I hope we did her justice.

* Finally, intriguing updates to Lib Dem councillor John Bryant’s blog, whetting the appetite for some possible backstage gossip. I’ll leave you for now with this screen grab from John’s blog. He advises us all to watch this space.

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