Who Knows What’s On In London?


For anyone who doesn’t remember Time Out’s rival, What’s On In London was a listings magazine that leaned heavily on ‘gentleman’s entertainment’ in girlie bars and restaurants called ‘Pigalle’ and the like. It went, as did City Limits (moanier and more hard left listings mag) and of course Time Out dropped its listings to become a freesheet a few weeks back, leaving us with a variety of excellent websites but no single central space where all the events of the city are gathered together.

Listings magazines had a hard time keeping up – someone had to check everything because a missed full stop could mean people being sent off to events at the wrong time. Now we have different sites for different aspects of city living, but I haven’t yet been able to find an easy complete listings site – Time Out’s is a hopeless mess and virtually impossible to use in any logical fashion, although the app is apparently good. All of which is my excuse for missing the Lord Mayor’s Show yesterday, the first time in living memory that it has taken place on a gloriously sunny, warm day. Instead, I was having lunch at The Owl And The Pussycat in Hackney with friends.

The last time I went I was about nine years old, and Dick Van Dyke drove Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the parade, and he frightened me because he had a bright orange face and weirdly coloured hair. I’ve been meaning to go again ever since.

The side effect of finding so much happening and so few ways of arranging visitation is that you can get into virtually anything, so long as you know exactly when and where it is on. Social networks have transformed the way we attend events. I went to the usually deserted paperback fair in Victoria two weeks ago to find it packed (and overpriced), because it now advertises on Twitter, but finding what you want is often a matter of serendipity.

Having wandered into a pop-up bar in Marylebone last week I encountered punters stepping through a ten-foot vagina, which was disconcerting as it hadn’t been billed as pop-up theatre as well (which apparently it was). Perhaps pot luck is more fun than booking tickets for Marc ‘Hairspray’ Shaiman’s and Sam Mendes’ hotly tipped ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ next July (tickets £70 and so-far-away-it’s-insurable)!

4 comments on “Who Knows What’s On In London?”

  1. Matt Brown says:

    Chris – we’re trying to plug the gap by doing a daily ‘things to do in London today’ article, listing 10-20 events, each morning at 7am. You can also sign up to it by email, so you don’t have to remember to check the site.

    Here’s today’s: http://londonist.com/2012/11/wordofthedayisauspicious.php

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Time Out for What’s On here in Blue State Virginia (yes, a Deep American politcal ref., but not a Deep South one) to plug a new Fowler-contributed-to paperback. Note: This is being done freely with no arm twisting, cash exchange or suggestion of a pint being bought in London.
    After being e-mailed by Amazon last week that Magic would not be reaching these shores until before Christmas, another e-mail arrived saying: Wait, wait. You’ll get it Monday!
    So… as I sat tap-tap-tapping came a rap-rap-rapping on my door. And one of the most inviting-looking paperbacks of the year had arrived.
    Black and white cover done in an etchy-woodblock-steel plate-Durr style, somewhat larger than House of Fear, thinner, great feel, good in the hand, nice smell, delivishly inviting, edited by Jonation Oliver, with 19 stories, including one by Admin. titled innocently enough (ha!) The Baby. Wait! “This is a genuinely horrific tale and shows us the consequences of the corruption of magic.” MAGIC: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane. As they say: “Need I say more?”

  3. admin says:

    Thanks to Matt at the Londonist for covering the Lord Mayor’s show and pointing out that he’s the 685th Lord Mayor!

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Who is the current Lord Mayor? I know it’s not Boris Johnson- he’s the other one. Or is his term up, too? Our paper has a section on Thursdays listing plays, concerts and films on for the next week. It covers the smaller film festivals fairly well, but if you want your play listed you’d better buy some (terribly expensive) advertising. Concerts are those in the main halls and churches, but at least there’s quite a list. Oh, and public events like the lantern parade at Trout Lake, the Chinese New Year events and the Japanese festival which used to be Obon but now is a more general cultural event in the heart of what used to be the Japanese area and is now rather a dangerous one if you have easily picked pockets. Probably the answer is either to whine loudly or start a publication of your own. (Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.)

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