Mark Andrews – levelling-up v dressing-down and the Shamima Begum show

The perils of levelling-up. The South Acton estate in West London is receiving £800 million investment to improve conditions and shake off its tough reputation.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a Workers' Party meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, June 17, 2021. Kim ordered his government to be fully prepared for confrontation with the Biden administration, state media reported Friday, June 18, days after the United States and other major powers urged the North to abandon its nuclear program and return to talks. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP).
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a Workers' Party meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, June 17, 2021. Kim ordered his government to be fully prepared for confrontation with the Biden administration, state media reported Friday, June 18, days after the United States and other major powers urged the North to abandon its nuclear program and return to talks. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP).

But not everyone is happy. Andzelika Luse complains the investment has attracted childless thirty-somethings "in their high heels, suits or gym outfit" who don't follow local customs.

"Now it's like if I go Sainsbury's in my pyjamas, people are just gonna be staring at me," she says.

I guess that's London for you. Wait until you venture outside the M25 love. There's people who take a dim view of defecating in their gardens or spitting on the floor in Starbucks. And don't even think about cooling your underpants in the office fridge.

* * *

Police are to visit 1,000 people suspected of using unauthorised streaming services to watch sports and television programmes.

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, or Pipcu for short, joined forces with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) for Operation Raider. Which all sounds very Line of Duty.

This probably makes me sound a stick in the mud, but wouldn't you rather the police dropped in on 1,000 burglary suspects instead? Preferably without the acronyms.

* * *

Former Isis bride Shamima Begum has been given her own podcast on the BBC, which I'm sure will be hotly anticipated by millions across the globe.

As a supporter of free speech, I'm reluctant to deny anyone a voice. But it does make one wonder what goes through the minds of folk who thought somebody who shacked up with a terrorist and boasted of seeing severed heads in the dustbin might have a valuable contribution to the discourse.

And, more to the point, how many of those saying we should cut Begum some slack were a few weeks ago calling for Jeremy Clarkson to be silenced?

* * *

Headmaster Luke Coles has been likened to Kim Jong Un over the supposedly strict lunchtime routine at Harnham CE Junior School in Salisbury.

Youngsters are encouraged to "walk smartly" through corridors, preferably with their hands behind their backs, to sing a song before eating, and to discuss a chosen topic over the lunch table. Older pupils also help wait on tables.

Sounds good to me. Encouraging kids to interact with each other, and the older ones to show a bit of leadership and responsibility, is surely better than sitting glued to their mobile phones.

As for the 'smart walking', maybe Mr Coles is trying to ensure they don't end up conducting themselves like late-night shoppers at the South Acton branch of Sainsbury's.

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