Archive for February, 2008

City links

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

There was once a book called the Shell Guide to London Weekends which featured ways in which Londoners could amuse themselves. Two sections always worried me slightly, mainly because I wrote them. Those sections are about ice skating (which I knew something about) and kite flying which I didn’t. Fortunately the book is decades out of print so I’m hoping there won’t be any disappointed kite-flyers writing to complain.

The editor of the SG to LW was a friend and he found he had too many subjects to cover so he farmed them out to reasonably educated and literate mates like me to do some research, find some names and write 250 words. The research required talking to people in the pub in case any of them knew about kite flying, then a bit of looking up stuff in the library and lot of looking up stuff in the phone book and some telephoning. I couldn’t help but feel I’d missed out on the good stuff, simply by not knowing about it.

In the Guardian last year there was a piece about bloggers who promote the cities they live in. The article felt a bit like my piece on kite flying -probably OK – workmanlike if not comprehensive. The selection seemed a bit random and rather small again like my kite flying and he missed out a couple of the sites I like.

My suspicions as to the depth of the research were heightened when I looked up the piece on-line and discovered that it had been amended because one of the sites had referred to Norwich in Vermont rather than Norwich Norfolk. Dear oh dear. Someone was in a hurry.

For the record one site I like is the Brummie Blogger which I visit a couple of times a month. I got interested for the obvious reason that one of my sons lives there and I like the city and so does he. Its got several good universities, two great art galleries, a lovely Georgian jewelry quarter, more canals than Venice (or so they keep saying) and also Harvey Nicks. As its in Birmingham I find it rather less intimidating than the Knightsbridge store – perhaps because it’s staffed by chic Brummies. The Blogger has, to be fair to the Guardian, moved more to diary mode than city promoter but nonetheless is a lovely fluent, natural writer who makes me laugh.

And the other is Diamond Geezer which I visit about every two months to remind me that London is still a city of hidden and half-hidden places (as well as a place of glittering hubris.) Geezer is a north Londoner I think while I’m a south Londoner by birth and inclination, or at least I was for the larger part of my life that I lived there. Now of course, I’m not qualified to say having swapped Catford for Oxford.