Diary: The world turned upside down?

In these strange times, who doesn’t feel like the world has been turned upside down?

(Pic credit: Richard Rogerson, Creative Commons)
(Pic credit: Richard Rogerson, Creative Commons)

It seems fitting, then, that Milton Keynes planning officers have given the go-ahead to plans for an upside-down house outside the town’s Intu shopping centre, paving the way for the construction of England’s fifth such topsy-turvy visitor attraction (see example, pictured). Operator Upside Down House UK proclaims: “We believe in being different, being fun and, most important of all, being upside down.” Milton Keynes officers clearly agree, granting temporary permission for the house to be installed for three years.

Most politicians are used to life in the public eye. However, life under lockdown has exposed MPs to an extra level of scrutiny – as they reveal their domestic furnishings while using videoconferencing software. After screenshots of one cabinet meeting were published, The Spectator noted that the top shelf of housing secretary Robert Jenrick’s bookcase was too short to allow the books to be placed vertically, resulting in them being stacked horizontally, a look that it judged “always visually unpleasing”. Jenrick may want to take pointers from Commons housing, communities and local government committee chair Clive Betts, who, during a recent grilling of housing minister Christopher Pincher, showed off what appeared to be an impressive scale model of the Houses of Parliament.

When it comes to large walls, it’s hard to deny China’s expertise. So it is that Belfast City Council enforcement officers find themselves in the unenviable position of having to investigate a large security barrier that was erected outside the city’s Chinese consulate without permission. After residents raised concerns about unauthorised changes to a listed building, they were initially told the council believed the work could be carried out under diplomatic immunity, although a temporary stop notice has since been issued. Belfast councillor Gary McKeown said: “Nobody is asking for anything exceptional: just for the built and natural heritage of the area to be respected.”

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