One week in, and the Story of London Festival has taken quite a bashing. Diamond Geezer was less than impressed with the web site, while Dave Hill was doubly caught out by dodgy information. On the other hand, Peter Watts at Time Out acknowledges a few wrinkles but thinks this could be a 'welcome addition to London's cultural calendar'. We're inclined to agree. This first Story of London has clearly been rushed through, and has more than a whiff of mayoral PR about it, but there are some genuinely enticing events here. Many of these may have happened anyway, but have gained wider exposure thanks to the festival labelling. If the copious criticisms are taken onboard, the Story of London could become something to treasure in future years, rather than a target of derision. Anyhow, here are a few choice cuts from the coming week.
Highlight: Get ye to the Museum of London tomorrow for a 10-hour epic retelling of the real story of London. The Great Museum Marathon tackles our city's epic history with an 'almost real time' tag team performance covering the past 1009 years. By 'almost real time', they mean one minute for each year, fortunately.
Walks: It's the big weekend for feety exploration. 113 of the blighters. A brief guide to highlights can be found on the Story of London web site, saving us the job.
Talks: If Dr Johnson's someone you've not yet heard enough about, head to the British Library on Tuesday evening for a new show about the 300-year-old lexicographer. On the same evening, the Royal Society examine how London's housing stick will have to change to cope with a low carbon future.
On Wednesday, Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury takes us through the history of that former borough. If you're able to get to Bexleyheath, we'd highly recommend a talk about Ruth Belville, the lady whose job it was to carry a pocket watch with the accurate time around 19th Century London. That one's at Bexleyheath Library. The following day, Sarah Wise discusses life in a Victorian slum at the Museum of London Docklands. At the other end of the social scale, Mike Berlin talks at the Bishopsgate Institute about the Partisan Coffee House, a 1950s Soho venue for political debates.
Random stuff: Chart the history of London through the medium of song. Put your larynx to the test on Monday when the British Library leads a participatory sing-along-a-London. From Friday 12th, the Spitalfields Routemaster becomes an unusual exhibition space for oral histories and performance about local history. Finally, pop down to the Leather Bottle pub any day next week for events themed around the 18th Century, in memory of the Garratt Elections. This occasional spectacle involved mock elections of local characters and took place in the village of Garrat (between Wimbledon and Wandsworth) until the 19th Century.