Londoner’s Diary: Ian McEwan in Bloomsbury tree showdown
NOVELIST Ian McEwan is in an unexpected face-off with an august international charity over a pair of troublesome London plane trees in swish Bloomsbury.
The Egypt Exploration Society has applied to fell the trees next to their office, which director Carl Graves says are causing havoc.
“They’re literally growing into the walls… the entire building is twisting and buckling under the pressure of these two plane trees,” he told us this morning.
But locals are not happy. The trees “represent a stunning visual amenity and add immensely to the charm of the area,” Atonement author McEwan argues in his objection to Camden Council. Musician Alison Goldfrapp and her husband are also among those who have written to state their disapproval.
Graves explains that the EES, which was founded in 1882, has an “internationally important collection of archive material for documents recording British Egyptology” which is at risk from leaks caused by the trees.
Graves adds: “I’ve spent the last eight years watching these cracks grow... it’s really quite upsetting to read the objections. Clearly people prefer these two trees now and don’t care so much about this irreplacable heritage.”
He say he understands the concerns. “We all want to keep trees, no one wants to lose trees”. The charity wants to replace the trees with two new, native species planted further from its wall. Camden Council is expected to make a decision in April.
Will local residents see the light?
Johnson floored by flood fears
RACHEL JOHNSON attempted to batten down the hatches for Storm Eunice — but unfortunately for her, it struck at just the wrong time. “Maddeningly we haven’t had our very expensive new flood door installed yet and we’ve only just got our new floor down after the Great Nottinge Hille Fludde of 2021,” the LBC presenter told the Londoner. “I expect to be bailing out the kitchen shortly...” But it might be a windbreaker that Johnson really needs.
Macca’s walk of fame lasts a mile
DERMOT O’LEARY found himself star-struck by Paul McCartney, he tells us. The Beatles man “started walking next to me… looked round and was like ‘You walking my way?’ I wasn’t walking his way at all, but I said ‘Yeah, course I am,’” O’Leary said. He ended up walking a mile in the wrong direction. The power of Paul.
The decade of decadence is here
DYLAN JONES, the former editor of GQ, is looking on the sunny side of life. “It’s going to be a great year,” he declared to us at a party this week. “I know people having been wanging on about the Roaring Twenties for quite some time, but it is true,” he added, “and it’s already started to happen”. Readers feeling flattened by the pandemic and blown away by the weather today can take heart. “London is about to become more decadent than it’s been since the Nineties,” Jones predicted. Bring on the decadence, we say — the perfect tonic for a stormy Friday in February.
Fashion pack are ready for the frow
LONDON Fashion Week kicked off in style last night with an opening party at Bistrotheque in Bethnal Green. DJ Nick Grimshaw and boyfriend Meshach Henry were joined by model Ajak Deng and Vogue editor Edward Enninful. Over at Soho House, model Munroe Bergdorf was at another LFW do, in aid of charity Queer Britain. Away from fashion, actor Andrew Garfield and comic David Walliams went to a screening of film Tick Tick… Boom! at Ham Yard Hotel.
BREXITEER economist Patrick Minford thunders that the Government has got its sums wrong and the benefit of the Australia trade deal could be £69bn, a cool 37 times more than thought. Sounds great — would the Department for International Trade consider using Minford’s maths, we asked? They declined. Spoilsports.
PARLIAMENTARY power couple Esther McVey and Philip Davies MP are looking for a parliamentary assistant to help both of them. The Tory pair, who got married in 2020, stipulate in the job listing for the role that the successful candidate must be able to “work effectively in a small team”. We detect some third wheel vibes...