Charing Cross

24-Hour Room Service, The Royal Horseguards

Whitehall is more than a place of high politics – it also has a notable history of providing luxurious digs to eminent guests. Once upon a time, behind the now traffic-clogged Victoria Embankment, there stood the original Scotland Yard. One explanation of its name has it that, prior to the Acts of Union in 1707, Scottish royalty had a residence there reserved for state visits. (The site later hosted the first headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, where less regal guests were temporarily accommodated.) Scotland Yard was part of the Palace of Whitehall, home to English monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I – both of whom died here. After fire destroyed the palace in 1698, the area was rebuilt with grand, governmental buildings, including a French renaissance-style chateau called Whitehall Court.

Hit & Run: Time for a rug rethink

By the time Barack Obama takes the hottest seat on the planet – the one behind the oak and mahogany desk in the White House's Oval Office – his presidential in-tray will be groaning under the weight of America's considerable ills. But not all his decisions will alter the course of national and international history. There is one piece of domestic policy that will nevertheless demand his attention: the small matter of his rug.

Pandora: PA problems bug Tony Blair

The secret paranoia of former statesmen. The former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson memorably told two journalists: "I see myself as a big fat spider in the corner of the room. Sometimes I speak when I'm asleep. You should both listen. Occasionally when we meet, I might tell you to go to the Charing Cross Road and kick a blind man standing on the corner. That blind man may tell you something, lead you somewhere."

Professor Norman Morris: Humane obstetrician

In 1960 the newly appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Charing Cross Hospital Medical School gave a lecture that greatly annoyed the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The professor was Norman Morris and in his lecture, "Human Relations in Obstetric Practice", he argued that medical advances over the past 25 years made childbirth less hazardous, but that many serious gaps remained in doctors' understanding of their patients' emotional condition during pregnancy and labour.

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