Saturday, September 16, 2006

A mildly entertaining distraction

London Open HouseFor several years now, on the third weekend in September, boyfriend number 1 and myself have taken to walking round the streets of London. No, not to sell our bodies, and certainly not to pick up rent, but for London Open House.

Although the charity that runs London Open House organises things all year round, the main event always seems to be on the third weekend in September. And on this weekend, literally hundreds of buildings in London which are normally closed to the public open their doors to anyone who's interested to see inside. Some of them are only open for a few hours, some are only open if you pre-book in advance, some are open both Saturday and Sunday, and some provide tours. It's all completely free too.

My favourite from a couple of years ago was visiting the Freemason's hall. The hall itself is amazing, and there's a fascinating museum about freemasonry too. This year's favourite (so far) was visiting the Marx Memorial Library. Wolfie, Citizen Smith The thing that made this special was the tour from one of the guys who worked there. He was informative and exceptionally entertaining, and was clearly an ardent supporter of the socialist movement himself. Lenin himself worked in the building for a couple of years at the start of the 20th century, but to quote our guide, "each generation re-invents radicalism in its own way". The guide also looked a bit like Wolfie from the old British situation comedy Citizen Smith, which seemed highly appropriate.

So if anyone reading this within the next 18 hours or so finds themselves at a loose end in London, go find a building or two to visit. Or if, like me, you enjoy taking a peek inside areas that you're not normally allowed to see, make plans to be in London for Open House weekend one year. It makes a change from cruising anyway!


ramo said...

"each generation re-invents radicalism in its own way" : wise words! I love talking to such people. They have so many stories to tell.

GB said...

Yeah ramo, he was certainly wise beyond his years. He can only have been in his early 30's, and he had many gems like that during the tour!

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

why is it that so many gay guys like architecture ... or maybe it's art in general ... or just poking around where we're not supposed to be !

i went to see a building site on tottenham court road - and the site manager gave a fantastic tour - makes such a difference ...