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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 10 July 2009
Seven Dials Trust members at the Covent Garden landmark
Celebrating Seven Dials’ return

MEMBERS of the Seven Dials Trust who helped restore the Covent Garden landmark by the same name to pride of place 20 years ago, revisited the scene of their victory this week.
The group, formerly the Seven Dials Monument Charity, drank champagne at the foot of the pillar, which without their efforts would never have been erected for the second time.
The original Seven Dials monument, complete with six ornate sundial faces, was first constructed on the site in 1693, but was pulled down 80 years later, in an attempt to get rid of the “undesirables” hanging around what was then a dangerous, gin-soaked no-go area.
Now the pillar is once more a familiar London landmark, attracting shoppers, tourists and lunching office workers to sit on its ledge.

Celebs booked in to work for Oxfam

SHOPPERS in Marylebone High Street’s Oxfam shop got a shock on Monday morning when they found themselves peering over the till at Bill Nighy and Monica Ali.
The actor and author were doing their bit for the first annual Oxfam Bookfest – a nationwide two-week book festival to raise money for the charity.
And they weren’t the only ones. While she is better known for writing romance novels then stacking shelves, Joanna Trollope was also in the store, to help sort and price the literature section. Diary wonders whether Ms Trollope was tempted to do a bit of price-fixing?
Her books are certainly no stranger to second-hand shops, and this time she would be doing the world a favour.
The High Street store is one of 130 specialist bookshops run by the charity across the country.
David McCullough, Oxfam’s director of trading, said: “During Bookfest, we want people to donate to and buy from our bookshops so they can really see the impact that buying a book from Oxfam can have on the lives of poor people around the world.”

Plaque tribute for Segrave, man who felt need for speed

THE man with the original Va Va Voom, Sir Henry Segrave, has been honoured with a blue plaque more than 80 years after being crowned the fastest man on Earth.
A Baltimore native, Segrave came to London to live in Dorset Street, Marylebone, shortly before he first got behind the wheel at Brooklands.
He went on to win four Grand Prix titles in 1923 and 1924 before breaking the land-speed record of 152.33mph in 1926 in his four-litre Sunbeam Ladybird.
After breaking his own record four times (clocking over 200 mph), Segrave decided his next challenge should be on the water, and began to race boats.
His need for speed eventually killed him. He punctured a lung after his boat capsized as he broke the water speed record at Lake Windermere in the Lake District. He was the first person to simultaneously hold the land and water records.
One biographer called him “a remarkable character by any standards, a charming, persuasive, ruthlessly determined person, who saw his goal, pursued it with an intimidating single mindednesses, and became the hero of a generation”.

4th plinth: Volunteers’ high old time

WHAT to write about the fourth plinth. There can’t be a person in the country who hasn’t heard about Anthony Gormley and his plan to democratise art. “A picture of Britain,” he calls it. We’ve had a steady drip of rule-breakers, exhibitionists and campaigners and even a hijacker – more or less to script then.
The safety net should ward off any spectacular suicide attempts, although Diary is taking bets on the first plinthian to be struck down with swine flu. No doubt there’s some overwrought reporter out there who has spent so much time talking to flu sufferers and plinth wannabes, they’ve already melded the two stories in their sleep. Diary applied for an hour on the plinth but to no avail. We won’t hold it against them, though. After all, newspapermen are supposed to tell the story, not be it.

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