Story Of London Festival: Week 1 Highlights

M@
By M@ Last edited 103 months ago
Story Of London Festival: Week 1 Highlights

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Well that's crept up on us. The Story of London Festival was first announced just three months ago. It begins on Monday. Over the past few weeks, we've been fed a steady stream - a Walbrook, you might say - of press releases from the individual participants, but little in the way of coherent information from the organisers at City Hall. The full itinerary of events has finally appeared on the official web site just days before the fun starts.

It all feels a little rushed, but no matter. There's so much mouthwatering Londonalia to get your Hampsteads into, that the collective umbrella of several hundred events looks like a triumph of substance over style. In fact, there's so much in the calendar that we recommend you simply take the whole of June off work and spend your days admiring the capital via free walks, talks and open days. Each Friday till the end of June, we'll sift through this box of Quality Streets and select the noisette triangles for the upcoming week.

Highlight: Before we tackle the opening seven days, here's the one event every fan of London literature will want to book in advance. Michael Moorcock, Iain Sinclair and Alan Moore, all in the same room at the same time. How amazing is that? It's like that old episode of Dr Who with all the first five Doctors appearing at once. Peter Ackroyd is presumably stuck in a time vortex somewhere. Tickets are still available if you can negotiate the British Library's unwieldy booking system. You can also catch Sinclair at a separate event to promote his slightly-more-penetrable-than-usual-but-still-intimidating Hackney book on 3 June.

Walks: An exhausting number of free guided walks will take place in the coming weeks. Over 150 of the bastards, in fact. Conjure up any aspect of the city's history - from prostitution to dodgy financial dealing - and chances are there'll be a tour on offer at some point. Best just dig into the calendar if that's your bag, but we'd particularly recommend anything put on by Wellcome Collection and any walk led by the stupendous, incomparable John Constable. The weekend of 6-7 June has a special focus on walking tours.

Talks: A few lectures take our fancy this week. On 2 June, Dr John Marriott presents Struggles over Public Space: the History of Parks in East London at the Bishopsgate Institute. While on 3 June you can catch a talk about Benjamin Franklin's life in London, over at his house on Craven Street.

Film: The BFI have collected together over 300 films and TV shows about London, stretching back to 1896. Pop in any day for a free play in the mediatheque. The BFI will also screen, at venues across London, a few silent films from the days when London was in black & white.

Random stuff: The Vagabond's Voyage, on various dates from 4 June, reveals the hidden stories of the Regents Canal. A guided walk along the towpath will be accompanied by storytelling, specially commissioned music and a boat journey. HQS Wellington Open Days (6/7 June) offer the rare chance to tour the only floating livery hall, on a WWII sloop moored on the Thames since 1948.

Look out for a free Poems on the Underground book, to be distributed at Tube stations throughout London in June.

Finally, those who were looking forward to the Camden Green Fair on 6 June will be disappointed to hear that it's been cancelled (despite news to the contrary on the Story of London site) due to lack of funds and official support.

Last Updated 29 May 2009

Lindsey

Diamond Geezer's helpful about events here as well as rightly critical about the whole affair. Seems rather like the "Story of London" is all styling - the substance was happening regardless. No reason not to enjoy it, but...

M@

Yeah, I enjoyed DG's broadside. But I'd still rule it as substance beating style. There are tons of great events going on, but the overall scheme lacks any style.

Chris Roberts

It's all substance that would have happened anyway though. All the organisers did was (to be fair they weren't given time) approach the large museums and blue badge guides and said can you help us with our Story of London. So the museums have just either carried on as normal (the Cumings), tacked on alittle bit (the Tate)or resurrected something (admittedly very good)old (the Wellcome) and the tour guides did what they'd be doing anyway this weekend and put it under the "Story of London Banner".

I would say therefore that it lacks proper substance, is inherently duplicitous AND lacks style. Story of Boris' London all over.