The Xtra Diary – Back to sgwâr one for Google mappers

Friday, 26th November 2010

The Klenke Atlas

Published: 26 November, 2010

FROM Americans struggling to pronounce Leicester Square to the French having trouble with the Thames, Londoners are used to hearing place names being butchered by foreigners.

But now it seems the world’s foremost search engine has joined their ranks by misspelling landmarks in Westminster.

Google is rendering Trafalgar Square in Welsh and Regent’s Park Tube station in Norwegian on its maps, a phenomenon that one cartography expert has claimed is “inevitable” because of the “wiki” aspect of the website, which allows users to edit some parts of it themselves.

On Google Maps, Trafalgar Square is spelt “Sgwâr Trafalgar” and Regent’s Park Underground station is rendered “Regent’s Park undergrunnsstasjon”, while David Cameron and James Gray MP are marked as landmarks in the same way as Big Ben.

Dudden Hill Service Station, in Brent, is also marked in Westminster, in the middle of the River Thames.

British Library’s head of maps Peter Barber said: “It doesn’t surprise me there are these mistakes on Google. When you get a wiki application such as this, this situation is always going to arise. It underlines the necessity for the Ordnance Survey. The way to deal with the problem would be to have a team of people operating according to regular, defined rules to clear up the data. That would add to the costs as these would have to be people with a certain degree of expertise.”

A spokesperson for Google said: “We will look into this issue to see if we can fix it.”

Peter Barber, above, suggests some Google map data need a “clear up”

Fireworks but no snakes, please

FOUR years on from the launch of the Wam Bam Club – a burlesque and comedy night that used to be based on a boat on the Thames but which now has a weekly slot at Café de Paris off Piccadilly – its glamorous ringmaster Lady Alex  (above) has been reflecting on some of the more nerve-wracking acts she has hosted.

And that includes the forked tongue ones. 

“There was that time we learned not to employ someone with live snakes,” she told Diary, “and that snakes and fire don’t mix. The snake charmer we had booked to perform was late because the snake wouldn’t wake up, and when it did wake it up it was angry.” 

The club’s time on the Thames was “always interesting” said Alex, who lives in Old Compton Street. “We had the tides to contend with, and people trying to serve food when the water was choppy.” 

But although the club is now firmly on dry land, its associations with deep water have not been completely cut. 

“When the Café de Paris venue was built it was modelled on the Titanic,” Alex explained. “Wam Bam has changed over the years but it still has the same underlying principle; it’s a variety night, has magic, comedy and burlesque, and the line-up is completely different each week. I have my own resident dance troupe and I jump out of a giant clam shell. It’s got to be big and it’s got to be glam.”  

The Wam Bam Club is at Café de Paris, 3-4 Coventry Street, W1, every Saturday. Tickets £35 for general admission, £80 for a three-course meal and show. Visit

Trouble in store? vision of a city full of…

Martin Langford, who studied advanced printmaking, mezzotint and etching, at Central St Martins declares himself “very pleased” with his Tescopolis, which won the Hector Purchase Prize Award at the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers’ annual show in May.

In a timely outing, in the wake of this week’s report from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, which warned against so-called Tesco-towns that would see supermarkets build inner-city housings, schools and parks, Langford’s work has just gone on show at the Mall Galleries. Tescopolis “…obviously a play on the name Metropolis, is a city full of Tescos,” says the artist, who is based in west London. “I was pleased to win [the] award as the print took months of hard labour to produce and I nearly gave up on the idea many times”, he said.

Tescopolis features in the annual open exhibition of The New English Art Club at Mall Galleries, which runs until December 5. Over 450 works are displayed and for sale.

Langford was reportedly inspired to make his work after his daughter’s school spent a vast sum collecting Computers for Schools vouchers at Tescos, but which the company claimed must have been lost in the post. 

The equipment was not forthcoming and the artist said this action, in his opinion, took the company “…from ambitious to greedy”. 

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