The Times newspaper's website updated last week. It was an absolute dog's breakfast on the first day, but the intended lime-green multimedia environment later emerged. One of the website's special new features is an online audio/video section entitled Cool In Your Code. This is a web TV extravaganza in which three energetic young presenters travel around London, postcode by postcode, reporting back on what they find. "We've walked the streets, toured the bars and poked our noses into the homes of London's most vibrant districts to find the places which make the capital special." This is most definitely not The Times of old. But the newspaper must be very proud of Cool In Your Code because they're promoting it with special adverts on tube trains. So I wondered what they'd made of my postcode, E3, and I thought I'd check it out.
Ah, Cool In Your Code hasn't got to E3 yet. Nor have they reached W8, SE1, NW1 or even W1. So far they've only covered Hoxton, which is sort-of N1-ish, and absolutely nowhere else. Great start, guys. We'll have to make do with Hoxton then. There are three Hoxtonesque video snippets to choose from - one on property (ie estate agents), one on culture (ie art and shopping) and one on nightlife (ie bars and restaurants). If you click carefully enough, one of them might even load (I had no luck in Firefox and had to start up Internet Explorer instead). Look, moving pictures! The future, alas, is not text-driven.
The three Cool In Your Code presenters could be straight out of Saturday morning TV, and they're really really keen to show us everything that this postcode has to offer. Well, just the tiny area around Hoxton Square, because that's where the only Cool in Hoxton seems to be. Each broadcast is flash, hip and snappy, with a nagging jazz soundtrack underneath. Let's whizz round a gallery and meet some artists, let's chat to a chef working in a restaurant kitchen, and let's ask a nightclub owner what makes his nightclub so great. Everything is dynamic, everything is "vibrant" and everything is upbeat. Presumably this is because the film crew had to seek permission from the owner of each establishment they entered, and therefore there are no negative comments about anything whatsoever. Yes, this is really just a lot of hyped-up PR disguised as editorial, and more fool us for watching it.
And where is Cool In Your Code going next? The site lists a few teaser previews to whet your appetite: Marylebone W1 (home to "London's most fabulous kitchen emporia"), Borough SE1 ("a cornucopia of delight") and Crouch End N8 ("crossroads of culture"). At least they're breaking out of Zone 1 predictability with that last location, but I think it could be a long time before the cheesy threesome come to see what Cricklewood, Thamesmead or Bow have to offer. Not enough boutiques, bars and property investment opportunities, I suspect. And what do the millions of Times readers living outside London make of all this, I wonder. Will there ever be a Cool in Your Code for Bootle L20, or Scunthorpe DN15, or Stornoway HS1? I think not.
So Cool In Your Code isn't cool, and it isn't in your postcode. Apart from that, it's perfectly named. But if you're an aspirational Londoner with money to burn and time to kill, then it might be right up your street. Just as soon as they reach Chelsea SW10, that is.
What's on this weekend? Spring Into Summer Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 May
40 free guided London walks. Purley Festival Friday 29 - Sunday 5 June
Bunting week, below Croydon. E17 Art Trail Sat 30th May - Sun 14th June
250 arty Walthamstow things.