Review reveals scale of abuse scandal at London private school

More than 80 complaints made against 32 members of staff at St Paul’s school in Barnes.

An inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse at a leading private school for boys has revealed that more than 80 complaints have been made by former pupils against 32 members of staff covering a period spanning six decades.

An independent serious case review was set up almost three years ago to look into a proliferating number of abuse allegations at St Paul’s school in Barnes, south-west London, after five former members of staff were convicted of sexual offences.

The findings of the review, published on Monday, reveal for the first time the full scale of the allegations. In total, 59 former pupils or their families were interviewed as part of the inquiry and a number of new claims have been passed on to the police for investigation.

The majority of complaints date from the 1960s to the 1990s, but some of the staff implicated were working at the school up until 2017. While the review focused on St Paul’s, its 28 recommendations are intended to inform practice more broadly and address what it describes as gaps in the national safeguarding system.

“St Paul’s is unlikely to be different from many other institutions of its time,” the report states. “We should not judge response of the school in the past by today’s standards, but equally we should not forget that for some ex-pupils, the abuse that took place affected their school life and has continued to haunt them through adulthood.”

St Paul’s is one of the most high-profile independent schools in the country and has been attended by the likes of the former chancellor George Osborne, the fertility expert Robert Winston, the foreign correspondent John Simpson and the historian Dan Snow. Termly fees are £8,636 and boarding costs £12,997.

According to the 112-page review, at times sexual abuse appears to have been “known and tolerated by staff” at the school. The report includes details of allegations from the 1960s of boys being made to swim naked in the school pool and pupils having to remove their trousers for private caning.

The regime was described as “sadistic” and “brutal”, with physical violence when boys were struggling academically. Pupils were most at risk of sexual abuse from teachers who were friendly and seen as “cool” and who portrayed themselves as the “good guy”. One convicted abuser socialised with the rowing team in the pub; another invited boys for sherry in his study on Sundays.

The report describes grooming behaviours and “blurred boundaries” in the 1970s and 80s, with teachers buying alcohol for pupils and inviting them to their homes. One former pupil who was abused over an 18-month period said: “Once you have been groomed, when the individual strikes it is too late to get away either physically or emotionally.”

Ex-pupils told the inquiry there was a protective culture among staff and a fear that if you spoke out it would be held against you. One parent went further, saying that speaking out was impossible if you wanted to remain at the school.

The report details further physical violence in the 80s and 90s, including a teacher dragging a pupil around the classroom and throwing him out of the door and another dangling boys out of windows by their ankles.

Questions were also raised in the review about the rigorousness of recruitment practices at the school. One member of the PE team was found during the course of police investigations to have a previous conviction for gross indecency against a 15-year-old boy.

The report also details some of the consequences of the abuse. One pupil who was emotionally abused and humiliated between 2003 and 2005 experienced mental ill-health as an adult and killed himself while at university.

Since 2000 there have been four allegations of sexual abuse. Pupils and parents have become increasingly confident about speaking about abuse and the school has become increasingly aware of its responsibilities.

“We accept full responsibility for the past abuse experienced by pupils at the school and have previously apologised to survivors and our wider school community,” a spokesman for St Paul’s said.

“Today we repeat that apology unreservedly to those who have come forward and to those who have not felt able to. Our modern safeguarding regime is of a very high standard and we are determined to ensure, through continuous improvement of practice, that we never forget the lessons of our past.”

Chris Robson, the chair of the Richmond safeguarding children’s board, said: “I am grateful to the independent reviewers, professionals that worked with them and most importantly those who contributed, often giving very personal and difficult accounts. Through this process we have been able to understand what happened, why it happened and what it means for safeguarding practice going forward.”

— Read more on Better Late Than Never

8 Haunted Pubs In London That’ll Give You The Chills

Looking for a ghost story alongside your pint? These are London’s most haunted pubs, guaranteed to give you the creeps.

The Ten Bells

Many people attribute the spooky vibe at this Spitalfields pub to its entanglement in Jack the Ripper’s story. But sightings of spectres haven’t been as Ripper-related as you might expect. One of the pub’s Victorian landlords George Roberts was murdered with an axe and his apparition is said to have terrorised staff who stayed on the pub’s upper floors. There are also some gruesome tales of the murder of a baby that have so scared the bejesus out of mediums, they refuse to enter the rooms upstairs. You’re probably better off with pints on ground level. 

The Grenadier

Step into this former officer’s mess to meet poor old Ceric, a junior soldier who met his fate when his comrades bludgeoned him to death after he failed to pay his gambling debt. You’ll now find the ceiling covered in dollar bills, tourists and ghost hunters keen to help Ceric pay off what was owed. Other guests have talked of the chill in the air, while staff have reported the feeling of a presence in the cellar, hearing footsteps and sighs emanating from down there. Clippings from newspapers are framed on the walls and tell of other spooky sightings from over the years.

The Bow Bells

The haunting at this East End pub sounds more like a maintenance issue to us, with a phantom flusher said to menace the ladies’ toilets. Over the years, the toilets have said to mysteriously flush while bottoms were perched upon seats. So far, not pants-wetting material – but in 1974, The Bow Bells team decided enough was enough, conducting a séance in the lavs. When the phantom flusher was asked to make itself known, a toilet door slammed open with such force that it broke one of the pubs mirrors.

Spaniards Inn

The former coaching inn on the foot of Hampstead Heath attracted its fair share of Romantic writers for overnight stays in the late 1700s/early 1800s, somewhat cementing its gothic status. Sure enough, the Spaniards hasn’t been short on spooky sightings, from the spectre of a Spaniard who lost his life in a duel of love to the presence of a woman in white seen hanging out in the beer garden. Most famous is a ghostly version of highwayman Dick Turpin who is said to haunt the street at the front of the pub. Supposedly, he was once a regular at the pub, when not forcing locals to ‘stand and deliver’.

Sutton Arms

We’re not sure this tale is all that blood-curdling, but we like it. The Sutton Arms is said to be haunted by a red-haired gentleman called Charlie, whose apparition stops by certain corners of the old Smithfield boozer. Charlie the ginger ghost (no, not your Tinder ex) is said to flash a cheeky smile at those who’ve had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, before disappearing into thin air. He once popped up between a pair of ladies while they were enjoying a lunchtime tipple, flashing that famous grin before buggering off again. Charmed.

The Flask

As one of London’s oldest pubs and with its chilly, cave-like rear rooms, it’s no surprise that The Flask has spooked a fair few punters. The story goes that a Spanish barmaid hung herself after discovering her landlord boyfriend was the 18th century equivalent of a fuckboy. Staff and visitors have since reported reflections that shouldn’t be there or a strange sense of foreboding that not even that last round of jägerbombs could account for.

Viaduct Tavern

Many people visit the Viaduct Tavern because of its claim as one of the capital’s original Victorian gin palaces, blissfully unaware of past paranormal activity on the premises. The space below ground at the Viaduct Tavern was once used as prison cells, and its former inmates have been giving pub staff a hard time ever since. In the ’90s, a manager claims a cellar door slammed shut on him and the lights went out, and that he wasn’t freed until his wife heard his screams. Upstairs, a pair of handymen claim to have seen a rolled-up carpet floating mid-air as if it were magic. 

The Rising Sun

The Rising Sun sits near St Bartholomew’s Hospital and it’s said to have attracted a band of body snatchers through its doors in the 19th Century. The story goes that these bandits would drug and murder the pub’s innocent punters and then sell their bodies to the hospital for medical research. Pretty gruesome. As such, it’s no surprise that supernatural happenings have since been reported. Most notable is the time a pair of barmaids living above the pub were terrorised by a bedsheet-removing ghoul, or the time a recent landlady was disturbed in the shower by the feeling of an icy hand running down her back. Eugh, there’s nothing worse than a pub perve.

— Read on A Ghost Did This

Probation officers ‘failing to investigate if dangerous offenders released from prison are lying’

Probation officers are failing to investigate whether dangerous offenders are lying about the risk they pose, a watchdog has said.

HM Inspectorate of Probation found that newly qualified staff were being left to supervise violent criminals and sex offenders after their release from prison – and lack the “professional curiosity” needed to protect the public.

The warning comes after the London Bridge attack was launched by a terrorist convict who was supposedly being monitored by the National Probation Service (NPS).

Its staff are supposed to supervise released prisoners and ensure they do not break licence conditions, commit further crimes or become a threat.

Chief inspector Justin Russell said there was a risk of harm to the public if officers could not detect “false compliance” by convicts.

“We need staff to demonstrate a more inquisitive approach rather than taking what they’ve said on face value,” he said.

“Rather than asking ‘has anything changed since I saw you last?’ they need to take a more proactive approach to investigating what’s going on behind the scenes.”

The watchdog said it found a “lack of professional curiosity” in each of the seven NPS divisions it inspected across England and Wales.
Overall, five were rated as good and two – London and the South East and Eastern division – required improvement.

The London Bridge attacker was being monitored by the Midlands division of the NPS when he stabbed two people to death on 30 November.

Usman Khan, who was previously jailed over a terror plot, is believed to have complied with deradicalisation courses before his release and his attack prompted warnings that extremists were duping officials.

Further fears were raised by the case of serial rapist Joseph McCann, who had already reoffended while on licence and “pulled the wool over the eyes of his supervising officers”, according to a judge.

Weeks after he was released from prison on licence, he started a rampage of rape and kidnapping against 11 victims aged between 11 and 71.

Asked whether Britain was likely to see another similar case, Mr Russell replied: “If you are supervising 106,000 high risk people, these things are going to happen and the NPS is doing as much as it can to reduce that risk.”

The chief inspector said the “horrible case” was an example of broader failings in the NPS.

He added: “It emphasises how important it is that probation gets risk management right, and that probation officers are properly supervised and are checking what has been done with regards to police and social services.”

Like other criminals who commit further serious offences, the handling of McCann will be reviewed but the report will not automatically be made public.

Mr Russell said there was a “need for discussion” around publishing the document as a matter of course, adding: “I think there’s a strong argument to say there is a public interest in publishing the McCann review.”

But he also warned that the recommendations made after other cases had not always been followed, amid a lack of communication with frontline staff.

Overall, the inspection found that the NPS was “hampered by staff shortages, stretched middle managers and poor facilities”.

At the time the report was written in June, there were 615 probation officer vacancies across England and Wales, but by Tuesday the figure had risen to 653.

The average caseload of probation officers interviewed in the inspection was 39, while for liaison officers the figure stood at 215. 

“The nature of these cases means that is obviously a concern,” Mr Russell said. “The problem is especially acute in London and the South East.”

Specialist teams that supervise terrorism offenders like Khan work with counterterror police and have smaller caseloads.

The report said that none of the seven NPS divisions has been fully staffed since a controversial overhaul of the system overseen by Chris Grayling in 2014.

They were created when the government part-privatised probation by handing the supervision of lower-risk offenders to firms called Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and leaving medium and high-risk criminals with the NPS.

The government announced that it was undoing the disastrous reforms, which were blamed for putting the public at risk, last year and the NPS will take over the supervision of all offenders from 2021.

Mr Russell warned that although CRC staff would be brought in, the change could increase demand.

“As the government recruits 20,000 police officers, that will also feed more business into the system and you will need more probation officers to deal with that,” he added.

“Staff are under pressure and this could compromise their ability to build effective working relationships with people under supervision and to manage all cases to a consistently high standard.”

Mr Russell urged HM Prisons and Probation Service to increase staffing urgently, reduce workloads and improve the supervision of probation officers.

He said 70 per cent of NPS staff are currently white female and called for the recruitment of more male, Bame and older probation officers to better reflect the offenders they are supervising.

The report also called for the Ministry of Justice to improve contracts with maintenance firms after broken heating, poor plumbing, rat infestations and other issues forced offices and probation hostels to be closed.

Justice minister, Lucy Frazer, said: “We know that probation is not getting enough of the basics right – that’s why we are bringing all offender management back under the National Probation Service, which the independent inspectorate says is good at protecting the public.

“It is also clear that the workload is simply too high for many probation officers and the 800 new officers currently training to join the NPS will make a real difference.

“I am reassured that the chief inspector shares my confidence in the vision and leadership of the National Probation Service – which will be essential to delivering these reforms.”

— Read more on The News

London Is Drowning And I Live By The River

Forty years ago, The Clash’s iconic album London Calling and its equally famous record cover featuring Pennie Smith’s image of the demise of a bass guitar, appeared in record stores across the UK.

“That bass crashed down and I just thought ‘well there’s a problem’ – The Clash never ever smashed anything – they couldn’t afford to.”

Johnny Green was at the side of a New York stage on 20 September 1979 as bassist Paul Simonon furiously plunged his instrument to the floor.

“When he started to do this move I nipped on there and said ‘what’s up Paul?’ and his response, rather eloquently, was ‘eff off Johnny’.”

The move, which Simonon would later reveal was the result of the audience not being allowed to stand up and dance, was captured by Smith. It would go on to become the front cover of one of the most revered records ever made.

Since being released as a double album, London Calling has sold more than five million copies and influenced countless people.

But as Simonon, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones and Topper Headon began the record, things weren’t looking too rosy.

“It all seemed washed up to be honest, and that’s the story of London Calling,” explains Green, who was the band’s road manager and one of the few people who saw the record take shape first hand.

The punk rockers had lost their manager along with their original Camden studio. Their record company had also lost interest in the band and songwriters Strummer and Jones were experiencing a lengthy period of writer’s block.

However, a US tour in early 1979 with the likes of rock and roll veteran Bo Diddley along with the discovery of a new base in Pimlico led to a flurry of creativity.

“They still had something to say and they wanted to say it… so I found this garage in Causton Street, down near Vauxhall Bridge. It was a place where they resprayed expensive cars – dodgy Maltese men in camelhair coats – but it had this lovely room, big and long,” Green said.

Influenced by the music they had heard abroad, the band began working “10 hours a day, seven days a week, for three months”, successfully incorporating elements of reggae, rockabilly and ska.

As the fragmentary songs took shape, The Clash relocated to Wessex Studios in Highbury and employed maverick producer Guy Stevens, a man who had a unique method to inspire the punks.

“He’d pile chairs up in a stack and just run at them and knock them over as somebody was playing a guitar lick. I remember him getting a ladder one time and whirling it round and nearly knocking people’s heads off,” said Green.

“He was a wilder rock and roller than most musicians to be honest… there were times when I had to carry him out of that studio unconscious and into a minicab.”

Following the last-minute recording of final track Train In Vain – a song created so late there was not even time to include it on the artwork – the band headed off for another US tour, where the image for the album cover was taken.

It was on the stage where many first encountered The Clash.

“They were a real force live,” said singer-songwriter and activist Billy Bragg. “It was always one of those gigs where you leave with your voice hoarse and ears ringing. The release of energy was just phenomenal.”

However, for Bragg what the band had to say was just as important as how they played it.

Take the title track. These days it’s used for everything from match-day anthems for Arsenal and Fulham football clubs, to a soundtrack for London on numerous TV shows and films – from Friends to James Bond.

Yet it is in fact a dystopian tale inspired by a news report about how much of the city would be underwater if the River Thames flooded. The lyrics also refer to issues including nuclear disaster, environmentalism, drug abuse and police violence.

The political nature of the album inspired Bragg, along with many others, “to go out and do it for ourselves”.

According to Bragg: “If it wasn’t for The Clash and their political sensibilities, punk would have just been a haircut and bondage trousers and not a movement.

“For me they were the last great ‘music can change the world’ band and London Calling was their zenith.”

Given that The Clash explored genres other than punk rock for the record, it’s perhaps unsurprising that London Calling didn’t just inspire guitar bands.

Rapper M.I.A. has spoken about how important the band were for her growing up and references the record in her 2003 single Galang. She also sampled The Clash on arguably her most famous track, Paper Planes.

Across the Atlantic, the band have also been influential. Chuck D of hip-hop legends Public Enemy describes London Calling as “one of the greatest albums ever made”, explaining how the four punks “taught us to fight for what really matters – and to do it as loud as hell”.

Train In Vain may have been the track that broke The Clash in the US but it was another that caught the attention of Canadian artist Robert Gordon McHarg III.

“Clampdown changed my life. It was a real message to me,” he said.

The song, which Strummer initially claimed was about stringent car parking regulations, explores the dangers of an oppressive political system. Its message remains powerful for many, including former US Democrat presidential nominee Beto O’Rourke who quoted the lyrics during a political debate.

McHarg has co-curated an exhibition at the Museum of London exploring the background of the record and the impact it has had across the globe.

The Canadian believes part of the reason for its continued success is because it is a “global album”. He points out that “London calling” was the identifier used by the BBC World Service when broadcasting across Europe during World War Two.

“These guys were drawing it back to the BBC and how the phrase London calling was announced. The record is a call to the world, a global shout-out. 

“I lived in Canada and I heard it,” McHarg said.

And the record continues to win over fans across the world.

Hannah Kanik, a student at the University of Oregon, said she first “truly listened” to London Calling during her first year of college, having heard it a lot while growing up.

“I listened to the album as a sort of connection back to my family and home life. Now, years later when I listen to it, the record reminds me of my first taste of independence and figuring out how to be my own person and live on my own.”

The 21-year-old, who is from Sacramento, California, considers it among her favourite albums and believes it to be “timeless”.

“A lot of the themes in the album, like struggling to find yourself or live up to society’s expectations for you, are still very relevant today,” she said.

The man who was there from the beginning said he was surprised both the record and the band remained so popular.

“The Clash exploded like the best firework display you’ve ever seen in your life… it completely mesmerised you and then it was gone,” Green said.

“It really did reach the corners of the world but it’s hard to think that would be the case back when we were making London Calling.”

Presentational white space

The Clash: London Calling is at the Museum of London until 19 April 2020

— Read on 10 Drowning Street

London Underground selling its moquette by the metre

The London Transport Museum has recently started selling its famous moquette fabric — in the same way as you buy fabric from stores — by the metre.

Although it’s been possible to pick up odd lengths of moquette from the museum at their Acton open days, routine selling of the hard wearing fabric hasn’t been available until now.

So if you fancy decorating some old furniture, or the toilet seat lid with London Transport fabrics, then head here.

Not all the designs are available, but they have 18 to choose from at the moment.

Prices range from £20 to £60 per metre.

If you’re thinking of buying a load to turn into things to sell on ebay, read the small print.

Mystic Mel says: This is the perfect gift for trainspotters wishing to renovate their basements.

— Read more on TFL Fancy Dress

A Batman-themed restaurant is coming to London

The world’s first Batman-themed restaurant is coming to London.

Park Row is a new venture described as “an immersive Batman-inspired restaurant experience”.

The restaurant, set to open in the spring and named after the area of Turkey that notoriously houses most Batman villains, promises the opportunity to “dine in style and find a slice of Anatolia in Soho”.

Among the attractions at the restaurant are an Oil Lounge inspired by Pekgul, an Ali Riza Alan sushi bar and a speakeasy called Dengbêj.

A new report in Forbes details that the restaurant, all 18,000 square feet of it, is set to house three bars, five different “dining environments”, and with prices starting at £45.

— Read more on Batman vs. Alexander the Great

Dominic Cummings avoids HS2 questions with bizarre nonsense kids cartoon rap

Dominic Cummings suggested that a team of cartoon superheroes could do a better job of running the country than the current crop of ministers.

Boris Johnson’s senior adviser has mocked the Cabinet ahead of a reshuffle which is expected to see a number of ministers lose their jobs.

Dominic Cummings threw down and suggested that a team of cartoon superheroes could do a better job of running the country than the current crop of ministers.

“The night time is the right time to fight crime, I can’t think of a rhyme, I look like slime that’s been on the wine now I’m on the line and it’s a sign it’s not benign.”

— Read more on Epic Rap Battles of Westminster

James Bond No Time To Die Filming in London

Either the owner of this silver BMW Z4 made a mistake when they parked their car on a ramp beside the River Thames in the aftermath of Storm Ciara or James Bond is bringing back the classic car/boat hybrid from The Spy who loved me.

The vehicle was captured immersed in water and floating down Thames in Leaders Gardens, Putney on Wednesday (February 12).

The woman, who filmed the incident can be heard saying: “Oh my god, babe that is someone’s car.”

According to the filmer, when the ride rose extremely high, it overcame the car which floated downstream about 100 metres until it totally sank.

— Read on That Sinking Feeling

After a Decade of Losses, London’s LGBTQ Clubs Are Starting to Win

With so many high profile closures of iconic LGBTQ nightspots, it’s easy to overlook all the amazing new club nights pushing through.

Still, instead of blaming dating apps for killing off gay bars, it’s important to highlight the exciting ways in which the scene continues to evolve. Thanks to a grassroots campaign to protect it from property developers, for example, the future of the Royal Vauxhall Tavernlooks less precarious than it did five years ago. The RVT Future campaign’s Rob Holley says this historic south London venue is now “flourishing” as a business, but points out it’s still owned by the same Austrian property development company that wanted to flip it for a profit. 

“While that’s the case we need to be vigilant,” he warns. “If some rich sugar daddy with deep pockets wants to buy the RVT for the community and protect the UK’s first Grade II listed queer building forever, we have plans. Call me!”

Also flourishing is The Glory, which this month celebrates five years of bringing forward-thinking drag and off-the-wall parties to an east London area it’s playfully renamed “Faggerston”. Co-owner John Sizzle told VICE last year: “The reason we make money is because we work bloody hard and our emphasis has been not on profit, but on glamour and fun and entertainment and theatre and community. All these elements have created something that people have embraced and really run with.”

The Glory isn’t the only LGBTQ venue to have launched successfully in the last five years. The Queen Adelaide in Cambridge Heath appeals to the sort of progressive East End queers who used to love The Joiners Arms; The Cock Tavern in Kennington attracts a slightly older crowd who have laid down routes in south London’s Vauxhall-adjacent “gaybourhood”. And last summer, the capital welcomed its first nightclub that’s solely for queer womxn, LICK. 

LICK grew from a monthly club night to a permanent venue in just three years because it gave London something it never really had before: a diverse and inclusive womxn-only space. Founder Teddy Edwardes says she started her own night because she was “disappointed with the lack of diversity and effort being made” when she worked at a lesbian bar in Soho. “From then on, there were queues going down Old Compton Street of women wanting what we were offering,” she recalls.

Since LICK opened its permanent space in Vauxhall last summer, Edwardes says she’s seen “a lot of new nights” launched as “people have realised how just popular and needed” they are. Still, she concedes that “we definitely still need more [nights for women]”, adding: “As long as they’re being started for the right reasons and run in the correct way, then the more, the merrier.”

Like LICK, The Apple Tree in Clerkenwell provides an alternative to older venues that have often catered mainly to cis gay men. Owners Lucy Fenton and Phil Hunt say they opened their “unconventional neighbourhood public house” in 2018 to create a “space where the LGBTQ community and other people living an alternative lifestyle can be themselves”. 

Everyone’s welcome, but Fenton reckons around 80 percent of their customers are LGBTQ, and says: “We’re all about bringing the greatest diversity of people together.” Their super-inclusive entertainment programme has made The Apple Tree a destination for queer folks who may feel alienated by more traditional gay venues.

It almost goes without saying that launching a venue in London – especially a queer one that’s niche by design – is eye-wateringly expensive. Because they made money through previous business ventures, Fenton and Hunt were able to buy The Apple Tree’s freehold and keep their costs down. “We did this not for financial gain at all,” says Hunt. “For us, it’s all about giving back to the community, so all our profits will continue to be ploughed back into the business and the community.”

Their business model is incredibly admirable, but clearly unrealistic for anyone without independent wealth. Still, The Chateau in Camberwell offers a possible template for a new, more affordable kind of queer venue. Frustrated by south-east London’s lack of LGBTQ spaces, founder Laurie Belgrave launched a pop-up in the unoccupied basement of a Camberwell hotel. It was only supposed to open for two months, but has now been going for 18. Belgrave admits The Chateau will never have long-term security because it “operates on a temporary rolling basis – effectively on a handshake agreement”, but believes this can be a blessing in disguise. 

“Because there’s no long-term financial risk,” he explains, “The Chateau can be more daring and radical in our programming.” Belgrave also admits that keeping The Chateau afloat hasn’t been easy, but says “we’re proof that you don’t necessarily need lots of money or even direct experience to create a space and positively affect the lives of LGBTQ Londoners”.

This DIY queer spirit is echoed in popular London club nights such as Pxssy Palace, which “prioritises womxn and femmes of colour and other queer, intersex and trans people of colour”, and Sink The Pink, a glitter-drenched pop party that regularly fills the 3,000-capacity Troxy. LGBTQ Bollywood night Hungama has been taking over venues such as The Chateau and The Glory since 2018, and founder Ryan Lanji attributes its success to radical inclusivity.

“Instead of a space which prioritises one type of person, race, religion or gender, we’re a dance floor full of like-minded people,” he explains, saying Hungama “not only creates a platform for queer South Asians, but a home and community that encompasses the future of diversity and togetherness.” It’s exactly the sort of warmly inclusive night that can help LGBTQ London to thrive. 

As we enter a new decade, London’s queer scene is also poised to benefit from last year’s launch of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Adam All, founder of drag king cabaret night Boi Box, says the capital’s LGBTQ venues really embraced the British spin-off by hosting weekly screening parties. “And lots of them chose to feature live performers [from the scene] who might not otherwise have been seen by that audience, which is great.”

All predicts that Drag Race UK could also boost the capital’s drag scene in a more subversive way. “There was a worry we’d all have to be and do what Drag Race demands,” he says, citing the show’s narrow interpretation of what a drag performer should be – namely a cisgender male portraying a heightened form of femininity. “But I honestly think that we love a rebel as much as a champion here in London – and often underdogs get their shot here.” Still, All warns that we can’t allow drag to become an Instagram-based art form. “Without our queer spaces and faces,” he says, “London’s scene can’t flourish and our performers can’t survive.”

So, where does all of this leave London’s queer scene in 2020? There’s no way of spinning fewer venues into a positive, but at the same time we shouldn’t underestimate the scene’s durability. As RVT Future’s Rob Holley puts it: “Our community has always been like knotweed – we find a crack, dig in and thrive.” 

Queer people learn to be resilient from a young age, and there’s no reason why our queer resilience can’t help to keep London’s LGBTQ nightlife alive.

— Read more on Cock Vice

London’s Tube is the world’s most dogging-friendly subway system system

The Tube has been rated as the world’s most welcoming subway system for four-legged locals, coming ahead of the Tokyo Metro and Madrid Metro.

The London Underground has been rated as the world’s most welcoming subway system for four-legged locals.

A report, by real estate company Essential Living, revealed that the Tube was the most dog-friendly subway in the world, coming ahead of the Tokyo Metro and the Madrid Metro.

They are followed by subways in Paris, Seoul, New York City, Moscow, Beijing, Mexico City and Shanghai.

The London Underground allows dogs on leads throughout the entire system, unlike many other subway operators that mandate they must be in carriers. 

Meanwhile, other subway systems – the Madrid Metro, Paris Metro and Moscow Metro – require dogs to be muzzled before commuting.

The Tube also allows other pets onto its lines if they are safely tucked away in carriers. 

However, even the best behaved of London’s pets could have a hard time of it on the Underground this weekend. 

Five of the Tube’s 11 lines are expected to be not operating.

Bakerloo line drivers from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) are expected to walk off the job on Friday for a three-day strike over a timetabling dispute with Transport for London (TfL).

The union said the proposed changes to driver timetables from next month would place “intolerable stress and pressure” on drivers.

— Read more on Cruel for Cats