diamond geezer

 Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Story of LondonOh hurrah, it's coming back. The Story of London festival, that is - a Mayoral initiative to celebrate the capital's varied and most fascinating heritage. The festival took place for the first time in June 2009, and it'll be returning again in the autumn. Stick 1st-10th October in your diary right now. I'm sure there'll be something worth doing this time.

Last time round, as you may remember, was a bit of a disappointment. Or you may not remember, because the publicity was dire and several events got seriously overlooked. Many of the supposedly special events were happening anyway, and weren't actually especially special. I'm sure the organisers will have learned their lesson, and in 2010 there'll be loads of inspirational activities promoted via a state-of-the-art website. Let's see what we know so far, according to a drum-banging press release rolled out by City Hall on Monday.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'London is a city where around almost every corner there has been a great Eureka! moment. Full of pioneering bright sparks in every field, there are hundreds of stories to be discovered. From the inventor of the incandescent light bulb to surgical techniques, from beer making to fashion and digital art, London continues to play a crucial role in every sphere of human activity. The Story of London is about invention, ideas and exploring the city. Who knows, you too might be inspired to instigate the next big thing.'
Sounds great. We're promised approximately 100 events all across the capital, and for more information to go to www.london.gov.uk/storyoflondon. Except, ah, hang on, that's just a holding page at the moment. Three short paragraphs announcing that something exciting is going to happen, but as yet no details. There is a timeline, but that's only for partner associations interested in taking part. According to the timeline, the "Announcement of participating organisations and events" was originally due to take place way back on 30th June. Missed that deadline, then. We've only just had the 'announcement of organisations' bit, six weeks late. As for the individual events, as yet no sign. That's not good, because the "Media campaign coordinated by the GLA" was scheduled to run from "July-September", and we've lost half that time already. Surely we're not heading for another ill-publicised SoL fiasco? One hopes not.

Thankfully the press release is dripping with hints as to what the eight day extravaganza will contain. Here are some highlights:

» "The season will include the legacy of Jimi Hendrix at the Handel House Museum" (great, but that exhibition's on for two months anyway)
» "the development of surgical practices at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons" (and that exhibition's on anyway too)
» "a new project that 'remixes' archive film to create new visions of London; and the chance to create your own version of London's future 'in a box'" (could be good, could be)
» "There will be talks from the likes of environmentalist Sir Crispin Tickell... musician Billy Bragg and architect Sir Terry Farrell ...and Poet John Hegley" (lovely, this is beating last year already)
» "a look at what London would be like had Joseph Bazalgette not developed the first sewage" (no, they haven't proof read this press release, have they?!)
» "an experiential look at London architecture involving newly composed music" (is this the bloke from Lemon Jelly playing on a bridge?)
» "Hip website the Londonist will be hosting a special pub quiz, in conjunction with the Royal Institution" (I'm not sure Londonist will be chuffed by that description, it makes them sound like a blog for arthritis sufferers)
» "Following the extraordinary success of the walking tours through Brunel's tunnel at Rotherhithe – the first to be constructed under water – there will be guided train journeys" (a guided train journey's not quite the same, is it? And these are fun, but by no means a one off)
» "Key partners in the Story of London include the Heritage Lottery Fund" who have already announced seven participating projects, including a £10000 grant to a group who want to celebrate "The social housing of Tower Hamlets through art, archives and ambulation" (I, for one, am excited)

And all that's just for starters.
"Further details will be released in due course."
I really hope it's not too little, too late, second time around.

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