Category Archives: Historical

Angelheaded Hipsters at The National Theatre

Alice Stevens

On a grey and wet day in London, I found the perfect way to spend Saturday morning by visiting the National Theatre for one of their platform events. In conjunction with a photography exhibition, titled Angelheaded Hipsters, currently running in the foyer of the Lyttleton theatre they held a platform discussing the Beat movement.

Having always been fascinated by the beat movement, the three panellists offered a fascinating insight into the origins of the beat movement, the characters involved and its influence today. The whole event was brought to life by actors reading excerpts from the key texts of this literary consciousness, and a trumpeter playing music such as My Funny Valentine and St Louis Blues.

The photography exhibition is also well worth checking out. It’s a collection of photos from Allen Ginsberg charting the early days of Kerouac, Ginsburg, Burroughs and Cassady – and also includes works by other photographs demonstrating the influence of the Beats.

With Ginsburg’s iconic poem, Howl, opening in cinemas this Friday, and Kerouac’s On the Road also being made into a motion picture with Sam Riley cast as Kerouac, their influence is clearly still being felt today. Their desire to move away from societal conformity and make sense of the changing world holds much resonance as events unfold in the Middle East.

The photography exhibition is free and is running until the 20th March.

Nearest Tube: Waterloo/Southwark/Embankment

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London Photograph Fair

This weekend you can gain free entry to the London Photograph Fair.

All you have to do is click here, and then email through to receive your voucher.

The London Photograph Fair takes place four times a year, and has an emphasis on photos from the 19th and 20th century (although there are some from this one too).

There are often hard-to -find photography books on sale as well.

To take a peek at all this, head down to the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury on Coram Street.  The free vouchers are valid from 2pm on February 20th – otherwise it’s £3 to get in to the exhibition (although some exhibitors will refund that on purchases over £20).

The fair is open 10am-4pm

Nearest Tube: Russell Square/Euston/Kings Cross

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Great Spitalfields Pancake Race

Mmmm pancakes.  Stuffing your face with them doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with exercise – but the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race is all in the name of fun.

And charity.

It might seem a while away – Pancake Day is on March 8 this year – but  if you’re up for it, you and 3 team-mates can race up and down Dray Walk to raise money for the London Air Ambulance.  Email or call 020 7375 0441 to enter or for more information.

That’s about a month to get in training!

After you’ve worked up an appetite after all that running, you can always reward yourself and eat the pancake – providing you didn’t drop it along the way….

Aside from pride and glory, the winners receive an engraved frying pan for their efforts.

The race goes from the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, starting at 12:30pm.

Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

 

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Thames Festival

Another week, another festival.  This week, it’s the turn of The Mayor’s Thames Festival – a weekend long jolly along the river between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge.

There are tons of activities and events to keep you occupied, and areas along the river are split up into four zones so you know where you need to be for each one.

Highlights look like:

Feast On The Bridge

Does what it says on the tin….it kicks off on Southwark Bridge (which is in Zone 3, fyi) at noon on Saturday and continues long into the night, ending around 10pm.  As well as all the food, you can feast yourself on the live music, dancing and baking – and that’s just for starters.

Photography Masterclasses

On both Saturday and Sunday, there’s a free drop-in photography masterclass in Zone 1, based on a first come, first served basis.  Once you’ve got all your tips, get snapping and you could win a new camera by entering the festival’s photo competition.

Walk and Explore

On Saturday, you can join a charity walk which explores the streets of London.  There are three walking challenges to choose from, and there’s an optional donation to take part in the event – click here for more information.  The walk officially starts at 10:30am (although it sounds like you can turn up at any time) from outside the front of the Tate Modern.

Festival Market

Covering all zones and running on both days, the Festival Market will be showcasing independent shops and designers, selling things from arts & crafts to food. With over 300 traders, you’re sure to find something you like!

Thames River Parade

Saturday sees a parade along the Thames of all who use it.  From barges to tugs to cruiseliners – you got it.  It sets off at 2:30pm from the Queen Elizabeth II Pier outside the O2 – click here for the full itinerary.

Beach Activities

Hang on to summer by hitting the beach on the foreshore at Gabriel’s Wharf (in Zone 2) on Sunday.  Activities include sandcastle making and wellie throwing. Suitable for all ages, all equipment for the activities will be provided.

Carnival and Fireworks

Concluding the Festival, a 2000-strong parade of dancers and musicians start partying at 7:15pm from Victoria Embankment.  The procession finishes around 9:15pm behind the National Theatre in time for fireworks, which will be going off from two barges stationed on the river between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges.  The display starts at 9:45pm.

The Festival is happening this Saturday and Sunday, September 11-12.

Nearest Tube: London Bridge/Waterloo/Embankment/Southwark/Tower Hill/Borough

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Filed under Central London, Festival, Food & Drink, Historical, Local interest, Markets, Music, S London

Tower of London

My roving reporter Jon Forman has been out and about exploring the city again.  Here’s his take on the Tower of London.

The parents have been down this weekend, staying in a hotel on Gloucester Road. They were promming over at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night – I think it was a Hungarian Orchestra playing some Mahler and Beethoven – and then Sunday left us free to dive into some good old fashioned tourism. Father expressed an interest in visiting The Tower of London; something which initially struck me as a little strange. Does he have a passing interest in History? Yes. Does he often express an interest in exploring the nationalistic embodiment of the hegemony of the monarchy? No.

The Tower of London (Picture courtesy of FreeFoto.com (c) )

Anyhoo, explore we did and upon my arrival at the nominated location at the anointed hour, Father was already looking rather pleased with himself having successfully negotiated the ‘interweb’ to pre-book tickets. We decided a good plan of attack would be to take on the wall walk, and on heading up the first of perhaps a hundred narrow spiral staircases the day would bring, we were thrust into the full history and atmosphere that The Tower has to offer.

It’s easy to forget the impact that some of The Tower’s past residents and internees have had on the country, nee the world. Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Kray Twins don’t often appear in the same sentence but have all spent time within the walls of The Tower for varying reasons.

The general ambience and presentation of information really gives you  this sense, whilst also providing interesting facts that you might actually stand a chance of remembering. The exhibits are genuinely engaging and err just on the side of what I’d a call ‘glam historical macabre’. See the Block and Axe with which Lady Jane Grey met her grizzly end, sit on the chair which bore the weight of the final soul to be dispatched at the tower. (A WWII German spy – death by firing squad whilst sat down!)

I was genuinely surprised to find myself lapping up this same atmosphere which keeps those lovable Yanks coming back year on year. If there’s one thing we Brits do well it’s Pomp & Circumstance and the epitome of this was the excellent exhibition on the various Crown Jewels to which The Tower is a home.

Impressive day out

I was impressed with the ‘overall attitude’ and packaging of the day out. Ice creams weren’t too expensive, the place is excellently maintained, and exhibits are modern and labelled in an informative manner. If you stay to take in everything on offer, you’ve got a full day out on your hands. The parents and I got through the majority of the exhibitions (including the Ravens) and this took us from 10am until 4pm once we’d included a short break for lunch!

Overall the day brought tired legs and full minds, and there was a real buzz about the place. I found a particular pleasure in the failed actors unleashing their inner jester to entertain the cue for the Crown Jewels.

On this showing, I’d say that The Tower has cemented itself as one of the Capital’s top-flight and most value for money attractions. To coin a phrase one might call it the Jewel in the Crown…….

Adult: £17 (£16 online). Concession: £14.50 (£13.50 online).

Nearest station: Tower Hill

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