diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Only in London (again)

Sorry, it's that campaign again. Only In London - Visit London's 2009 campaign to boost tourism in the capital by publicising its unique attractions. You probably remember last month when they published a list of "the top 100 things to do" in London, then thought better of it and swiftly downgraded the list to merely "100 things to do". Well, that list has now been extended to 166. I knew you'd be excited. Teeth at the ready.

The list is still being marketed as "recommendations for things you can only do in London". I take issue with this claim. Some things you could do elsewhere. Some things have been defined in an extremely restrictive way. And some things are a bit rubbish. Below are some selected lowlights from the latest additions to the list, so that you can see what I mean. And you may well have thoughts of your own on some of the rest.

Attractions that are patently impossible
118. See British law-making in action at the Houses of Parliament during the summer opening (erm, no visible law-making occurs during the summer recess, by definition)

Attractions that you could do better somewhere other than London
115. Visit the Estorick Collection, Britain's only gallery devoted to modern Italian art (or go to Italy, obviously)
139. Visit the burial site of the first plague victim in St Paul's Church in Covent Garden (just a hunch, but I doubt that the world's first ever plague victim died in London)
154. See Upminster Windmill, built in 1803 and one of the finest examples of a "smock" windmill remaining in England (it's a lovely windmill, but Britain boasts better)

Attractions described in such a contrived way that only one location could possibly satisfy
157. Visit The Geffrye Museum, the world's only museum dedicated to British middle-class homes and gardens from 1600 to present day (unique, by definition)
158. Visit the British Music Experience, the world's only fully interactive permanent exhibition devoted to popular music in Britain (unique, by definition)
160. See the world's most comprehensive collection of British 19th- and 20th-century decorative arts for the home at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture at Middlesex University in Enfield (unique, by definition)

Attractions that are "Only in London" because they've been defined as London-only
104. Stay in The May Fair Hotel – The official hotel of London Fashion Week (London only)
133. Browse at London's oldest food market, Borough Market (London only)
149. Enjoy the comfort of Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, the city's oldest functioning cinema (London only)

Attractions that appear on the "Only in London" list more than three times
8. Explore ZSL London Zoo, Regent's Park, the World's oldest scientific Zoo (Waltham Forest's only on the list once)
117. Take a dive and visit the world's first aquarium at ZSL London Zoo (Kensington Palace's only on the list twice)
131. Visit ZSL London Zoo, where Christopher Robin (AA Milne's son) first fell in love with a real bear named Winnie, which started the classic tale (Hampton Court's only on the list three times)
141. Explore ZSL London Zoo which bred the first female giraffe in captivity and was home to the first hippopotamus in Europe since Roman times (the O2 and the Tower of London also appear on the list four times each) (I wonder how much they paid for the privilege?)

Attractions that are plain rubbish, as attractions go
127. Go shopping under the tallest building in the UK, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf Tower (but you can't see the tower from the shops, so why make a fuss?)
144. Paint a picture in East London, which has the highest concentration of artists per square metre than anywhere else in Europe (per square metre???) (oh please, put down the book of statistics and walk away)
166. Explore the same streets as Sir Walter Raleigh, who lived on Upper Street, Islington (he'd not recognise the place now though, would he, there's no Tudor heritage left) (so this is drivel) (they really should have stopped the list at 165)

Fantastic attractions that are indeed "Only in London"
111. Visit The Monument, the tallest isolated stone column in the world (historic, unique, freshly-spruced AND a great view from the top)
132. See the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, where Big Ben was cast (a proper gem, even the Queen visited last month)
125. Visit the London Sewing Machine Museum in Balham, the UK's only museum dedicated to sewing machines, with more than 600 sewing machines on display (beat that, rest of world!) (you can't, can you?)


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