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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 9 January 2009
Pictured on the New Year's Day Parade, from left, with town crier Peter Moore, are Cllr Brian Connell as Mr Bumble, Cllr Robert Davis as Fagin, Cllr Steve Summers as Oliver and Cllr Daniel Astaire as the Artful Dodger
Pictured on the New Year’s Day Parade, from left, with town crier Peter Moore, are Cllr Brian Connell as Mr Bumble, Cllr Robert Davis as Fagin, Cllr Steve Summers as Oliver and Cllr Daniel Astaire as the Artful Dodger
It’s an ironic twist as councillors join parade

WESTMINSTER has earned a reputation among some residents as a local authority that likes to pick pockets, whether it’s council tax, parking wardens or nursery fees.
How fitting then that a group of councillors swapped their shiny suits for Dickensian rags last week. No, the credit crunch hasn’t got that bad, it was all in the name of public service (of sorts).
They dressed up as characters from Oliver Twist as part of the New Year’s Day Parade.
Councillors eating gruel and living in squalor is an image that would certainly bring a smile to the faces of those who wonder what they actually do for the taxpayer.
But alas it was for one day only.
They were part of a 500,000 crowd who turned out for the parade and marched through Parliament Square, Whitehall and Piccadilly. They were spurred on with a little help from pupils at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, singing the classic show tunes from the musical including Where is Love?, I’d do Anything and You’ve got to Pick a Pocket or Two.
Councillor Robert Davis said: “Yet again the parade was a marvellous day out and the best possible way to kick-start the new year. Our entry looks forward to the opening of what looks set to be one of the most popular shows in Theatreland this year.
“As well as being a fun day out, the parade has raised much-needed cash for charities across the capital.”

Fair comment?
Or one way to lose your ticket to heaven?

WAITING for a bus home in central London in the freezing cold, you might be inclined to think there really is no God. Well, as of this week, your suspicions could be confirmed.
Or at least plant the seed, with giant adverts proclaiming: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Whether or not the British Atheist Bus Campaign, who paid for the adverts to be emblazoned on 800 buses, went with “probably” to leave the pearly gates open, is not certain.
Doesn’t that make them agnostics anyway?
Diary thinks non-believers should probably stick to their guns, but the bus route past Westminster Abbey could well bring on an epihany so perhaps it’s best to be more equivocal.
The campaign was originally started with the intention of raising just £5,500 to buy one advert, but a campaign took the internet by storm – attracting more than £135,000 in donations on the justgiving.com website.
The venture has been supported by the most outspoken public athiest of them all, Richard Dawkins.

Feb 3, that’ll be 50 years to the day

Legendary rocker and American legend Buddy Holly is the subject of a new exhibition of unseen images on the 50th anniversary of his death.
Holly, who pioneered a style that resonates far and wide, counts luminaries such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan as devotees.
The exhibition at Proud Central Gallery will shine a new light on the star’s short life, as seen through the lenses of photographers including Lewis Allen, Harry Hammond and Bill Francis. The former Crickets frontman, who penned a host of hits including Peggy Sue, That’ll Be the Day and Heartbeat, died in a plane crash on February 3 1959, aged just 22.
The show runs from January 29 to April at Proud Central in John Adam Street off the Strand.

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