Hot Town, Summer In The City

Culture VultureGiven the current less than warm weather it’s perhaps a little premature to be thinking of Summer but if you can’t start thinking of Summer in the middle of April when can you? OK, don’t answer that.

Sometimes I can understand the whole, When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life thing. There’s so much going on and a lot of it doesn’t cost a penny that it’s hard to imagine that you would get bored but for many and I include myself here, it’s precisely because there is so much happening that people feel a little overwhelmed. With so much choice it’s easy to do nothing as you struggle to decide upon what to do.

Last year was dominated by the Olympics and for a large number of people that’s fast becoming a distant memory. It’s 2013, time marches on and we’re looking for new things to do. I’ve certainly been attempting to make more of an effort to do things. I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of money buying gig tickets, which is quite funny as I said in December last year that I was only going to go to 2 or 3 gigs this year. So far I’ve been to 3 gigs and have bought tickets for 6 others. I just have to remember when they are!

Obviously most gigs cost money but anyone with an interest in art can not only indulge their passion but very often get fed and watered at the same time and all for free. What am I talking about? Private Views! Register with enough galleries and goodness knows London is full of them and you’ll soon get regular email notifications of their private views, which nearly always come with free booze and occasionally finger food.

As for museums, I find the most cost effective thing to do is become a member/friend of a particular place that you like and for your annual subscription you get to enjoy 12 months access to whatever exhibitions are on. This Summer the V&A is hosting the David Bowie Is exhibition, one of their most popular exhibitions to date with something like 48,000 pre-sold, timed tickets being snapped up before it opened.

As a member I don’t have to think 6 months ahead if I’ll be in the mood to go along on a Tuesday afternoon at 2:30pm, I can just rock up whenever I like, bypass the queue and enjoy … as many times as I want. The best tip to really keep costs down is to pay a little extra and add the option of including a guest with your membership and then have a friend do the same with another gallery or museum then you have 2 venues sorted for the year. The Royal Academy, The British Museum, which is hosting the awesome looking Life and death: Pompeii and Herculaneum and the Southbank Centre all have similar schemes.

However you can enjoy plenty of culture for free, the British Library for instance offers a good variety of exhibitions in London, many of them free. One that caught my eye is Murder in the Library: An A-Z of Crime Fiction, this is being sponsored by the Folio Society, somewhere else that gets a lot of my hard earned cash. This exhibition, which is on until 12 May 2013,  takes a quirky look at the history of crime fiction, from its earliest roots to the present day.

Featuring familiar and loved writers, such as Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, alongside the obscure and unexpected such as former footballer and England Manager Terry Venables and burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee to name but a few, Murder in the Library: An A-Z of Crime Fiction showcases never before seen manuscripts, beautiful printed books, rare audio recordings, artworks and intriguing artefacts from the Library’s outstanding British and North American collections.

So, if you’re going to spend Summer in this great city, don’t let the lack of pennies in your pocket put you off exploring, there is plenty out there for free and lots more for a reasonable price. Go on, enjoy yourself!

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