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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 16 January 2009
Portman Village, the latest 'must-visit' destination
Portman Village, the latest ‘must-visit’ destination
Marylebone is the latest home for ‘village’ people

THAT'S’s wrong with plain old Marylebone, Diary asks?
This week marked the arrival of the latest “urban village” trying to muscle in on the historic area.
Portman Village’s constitution heralds itself as “an exclusive area in which to shop, eat and drink, just moments away from the bustle of Oxford Street. An eclectic mix of shops and restaurants providing a village centre for the local residents as well as a shopping and eating destination”.
Needless to say, it is “a destination in its own right”. Diary wonders whether the postmen can keep up with all these new villages springing up in Marylebone.
First it was Connaught, then it was Marylebone itself. North of the Marylebone Road needs to work fast otherwise it’s going to be left out and rumours are now afoot that the streets around Harley Street are getting in on the act – so close to Marylebone Village but yet off the map. Bets are already being taken on “Medicine Land” being next.
So does anyone actually know where Portman Village is? Well, according to the council, Seymour Place has now been annexed as part of Portman Village, after a £400,000 makeover and the installation of traditional Grey Wornum lamps.
Money obviously helps the right to exist.
The council’s deputy leader, Robert Davis, said: “These improvements will help Seymour Place establish itself as an integral part of the Portman Village area, making it a must-visit destination in its own right.”

Evicted squatters moving up property ladder

SQUATTERS who were evicted from a £6million Mayfair mansion have gone one better, moving 400 metres down the road to a property worth more than £22million.
The Da! Collective Group, now operating under the name “The Temporary School of Thought”, are running workshops of “mutual learning, left-wing bias and free lectures” at the house in Clarges Mews.
But they won’t be getting too comfortable because the owners are on their case, being alerted to the squat when a Christmas tree was spotted through the window.
The house, just around the corner from Berkeley Square, is owned by Timekeeper Ltd, which this week failed to win a possession order after a judge adjourned the hearing at Central London County Court. The squatters cannot legally be removed until an order is imposed.
Timekeeper bought the Grade-II listed property in April 2007 and it has sat empty while the firm seek planning permission.
In November, the group caused a stir when they entered a house in Upper Grosvenor Street under the cover of darkness and unveiled a black anarchist flag from the mast.
Upon being turfed out of the property in a farcical court hearing, they simply moved around the corner.

An MBE for school nurse Carol

A CASUAL visitor to St Clement Danes primary school in Covent Garden would, perhaps, hardly be aware of the presence of the school’s nurse, Carol Leonard.
Thankfully, Carol’s work was recognised with an MBE in the New Year Honours list.
Carol, 58, has been a fixture at the school since 1984, always available to tend to nose bleeds, grazed knees and dreaded head lice infestations. She said: “I am chuffed to bits that I’m able to receive such an award for doing something that gives me so much joy alongside such wonderful children. It still feels like I just started. Now I’ve even got parents sending their kids to nursery that I used to look after!”
Typically, in her spare time Carol has served as group scout leader of the 75th Lambeth group for 24 years.

Great black Britons to mark Obama’s big night

THE RnB superstar Kelly Rowland is flying into London to sing at a historic black-tie gala dinner to celebrate Barack Obama’s inauguration as US President on Tuesday night.
The singer will be among a host of celebrity guests including Mica Paris, former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Premiership footballers Jermain Defoe and Bobby Zamora, who will be at the InterContinental Hotel in Park Lane to witness the big moment.
The night, “Yes We Did”, will be hosted by TV star Kwame Kwei-Armah. With events from Chicago being beamed back onto big screens, a string of successful black Britons will be honoured on the night including former TV presenter Floella Benjamin OBE, Rustie Lee and Orin Lewis.
Tickets are available on 020 7537 6700.?Great black Britons to mark Obama’s big night


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