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London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.

Bozza wants "more" green spaces in the Capital - he told us so, at election time. The people of the Kingshold estate, Hackney, just want "some" green space - they told their Councillors. "But you've got some", observed the Councillors, pointing to the nearby park. The "nearby park" is, to the law abiding citizens of Kingshold, what the north of Cyprus is to the Greeks living south of the Green line - we are talking "no-go-area". Nick puts on his flak jacket and heads North-East to discover why, and whether property development may have a small say in the matter, too.

Talking of which, the one upside to our collective half-trillion pound (that's £500,000,000,000) bailout of some of the Banks (and there are a few more still festering in the wings) is the instruction from the Government, on behalf of us "shareholders", that they get lending again, especially on mortgages. Do you see a property market, ablaze with interest? A banging down of estate agents' doors? Nope - it's still as lukewarm as yesterday's left-overs. Melanie Bien joins us to explore when things, at least hypothetically, may change.

There used to be a great programme on TV called "Hypotheticals" - they'd set a scenario and ask the great and the good what they'd do:
"An unknown virus is sweeping across the south of England. What do you do?".
"Move North?" would not have done.
Then they'd develop the scenario: "And we've run out of hypodermics"
"Bulk buy sugar cubes?" would have fallen short, too.
Anyway tonight we have the tragic story of the family that found itself playing a real-life version of "Hypotheticals" that ended in tragedy.
First scenario - "Dad is displaying stroke symptoms - slurred speech, limp limbs and so on. What do you do?".
"Phone the GP?"
"Good! But, actually, the GP is not there and an out-of-hours service has kicked in, instead. Now what do you do?"
"Give a bit of background and ask for advice?"
"Good. Your getting the hang of this. The out-of-hours service suggests paracetamol. What do you say to that?".
"Not happy. We'll phone NHS Direct. OK?"
"Good - NHS Direct tell you to take him to the Doctor".
" But he's too big to get out of bed - can we call for an ambulance?"
"Yes, but you'll never guess what the paramedics in the ambulance will tell you to do ........"

I am not going to give the punch line away but you reach it via wrong-headed diagnoses including vertigo, yet more recommendations of paracetamol, a trip to A&E, and then the screen fades to black.... Phil listens to the family who have spent more time recently talking to lawyers than medics.

Half a million of London's immigrants would rather not talk to lawyers, if you don't mind: they are illegals and make up two thirds of the national total. Bozza wants to call an amnesty. A lot of the illegals say they just want to stay, work and pay taxes. That, to some cynical old minds, may distinguish them, for the better, from a lot of our homegrown stock but I merely pass on the gossip in the snug... Harris takes a much more clinical, and never cynical, look at the challenge and asks if the election timetable has anything to do with other great political leaders keeping a bit mum on the whole thing.

Michael Ball doesn't do "mum" - he speaks boldly, sings loudly and celebrates, extravagantly, his 25 years in showbiz today. He is sweeping, histrionically, our way to have a natter before sweeping, wondrously, back to do "Hairspray" for the masses I see queuing at his theatre every night. We are lucky to have him, as are they.

We celebrate Chrissie's being with us - it is bright but very cold today. Why? Keep it simple, missy: I am getting on in years.
The papers will litter your screen before littering London until we all learn to do the right thing, assuming we can find a bin.

And we have a piece from a doctor who says we broadcasters get science wrong, though some get it more wrong than others. I like to think we are more a "nuclear fission will happen, one day" programme than a "flat-earth" believer's broadcast. And remember, E only equals MC squared if neither is a rapper nor an illegal drug.

The Oz felt the need for soup as I devoured a chocolate bar - she is wiser and healthier than I am. But I think I am still just a bit happier than her. Soup vs sweeties? Sorry, Doc: it's a no brainer.

See you at 6.

Alastair & Alex