Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Other Side Of London

I found news reports of “revellers” on the underground at the weekend really quite disturbing. It all seemed so senseless with echoes of the bad old days of football hooliganism. It looked like many at the “last tube booze-up” were only there to cause trouble and the organisers clearly hadn’t thought through the consequences of their suggestions. Unfortunately, it puts London in such a bad light across the world. London is a great place to live, work and visit and it is a shame that more of the good is not reported across world media.

The day before the boozy tube disruptions, I visited London as part of my Ding Dong rediscovery and saw the other side, the much more pleasant side, of London. Over the last few months I have walked along the south bank of the River Thames a couple of times but only as a means to get from one place to another. I have been guilty of ignoring my surroundings whilst concentrating on getting from A to B, so missing some of the new and rather exciting features on that side of the river.

Being half-term holiday, there were a lot of people milling around, enjoying the sunshine and the sights. I sat down on the steps near City Hall among tourists, workers and families and the atmosphere was reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Admittedly there were only two steps to choose from here but the air of excitement was palpable. It was truly refreshing!

Walking passed City Hall towards London’s latest temporary attraction, The Telectroscope, I noticed a sunken amphitheatre. I cannot believe I didn’t notice this before! The Scoop (great name!) is an open air performance space offering FREE events throughout the summer months (hmmm… it is raining again as I write this!). A poster advertised free performances of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” over the weekend which I can imagine does not go down well with the Globe Theatre a few minutes walk away but how wonderful for everyone else!

A little research has revealed that the Scoop really does provide a wide variety of free events for anyone and everyone.
Until the end of September, fitness classes will be held at the Scoop every Wednesday from 7.30am-8.30am. Promising to get you going for the day, classes are suitable for all abilities and fitness levels. Arrive early as numbers are limited and will be run on a first come first served basis.
June is the month of free films at the Scoop starting with “Chicago” tomorrow and then a different movie every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 9.30pm until the end of the month.
July is free music month with a fabulous line up of famous and up and coming artists to entertain you at lunch time and in the early evening.
August and the beginning of September is free theatre time with two contrasting shows being performed 5 nights a week.

The Scoop seating capacity is 800 and seats are allocated on a first come first serve basis. Barbeque food and a bar will be available so it is worth getting there early to guarantee a seat and enjoy the unique atmosphere.

I will definitely take advantage of some of these free events from More London and will invest in an extra comfy cushion to sit on!
As an example of a community project on a grand scale, you don’t get much better than this. The Scoop proves that London has much to offer its people and its visitors without expecting something in return! I shall see what the reality is like but I think the Scoop is well on the way to getting a Ding Dong award from me. Don’t you just love a freebie?!

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