July 3, 2018

A capital idea: Escape the crowds with some creative inspiration this July

For anyone gazing out of their office window last week contemplating pushing the fire alarm so that they might congregate in the sunshine, we feel you.

As our colleagues slip away to poolside loungers we must seemingly console ourselves with the stifling heat of the central line and watching Brits abroad on ITV2 each evening.

Even the sanctuary of the pub is in peril, as throngs of fluorescent-shirted World Cup fans make getting served at the bar a challenging new sport. Every beer-garden under threat of eruption, chanting and dwindling CO2 supplies.

Thank goodness then, for the start of Wimbledon, a sporting tournament with some British decorum; spectator picnics, Panama hats and hearty applause for both players irrespective of nationality. When it rains, the match stops, and a weatherman emerges to peer pensively up at the clouds to determine if all is indeed lost – a situation we are all familiar with.

If the World Cup has put you off ball sports completely or tickets for the tennis are in short supply, plenty of other event organisers in July are sending prayers to the MET office as they welcome visitors into great outdoor spaces.

Alexandra Palace opens its doors on the 21st of July for Kaleidoscope, an all angles sensory dopamine hit. For the first time in three decades both the Palace and the Park with its whimsical view over toy town London are open for the festival. Performances for every penchant greet those who take the tube ‘oop north’. So north in fact that Dr John Cooper Clarke will be there.

Outdoor cinemas perhaps represent millennial summer desires best of all, not just by fulfilling our need for constant visual stimulation. Outdoor screenings are a tonic for FOMO friends who must be outside making the most of the warm summer’s evening AND eating from great pop-up food stalls AND enjoying a film… and Instagramming all three. After all, didn’t our parents say it was a crime to sit inside on days like these?

Several outdoor cinemas are showing films in July, for the FOMO crowd there is even the option to do so on board a Thames river boat. Viewers will have the choice of this year’s award-winning films or some old classics, presumably not Titanic though…

But if you can’t face another minute of unreasonably bright sunshine or yet another tepid pint, then the Barbican could be your air-conditioned answer with its recently opened exhibition of photographer Dorothy Lange’s moving portraits. Working closely with novelist and East of Eden author John Steinbeck, her work documented the devastating impact of the Great Depression on the American population, particularly the economic migrants captured in his Nobel-prize winning novel. Not only does this exhibition aim to depict how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change, but it puts our current dust-bowl situation into context.

July’s flower show’s and numerous food festivals satisfy the remaining sensory desires. Now that most successful new food enterprises begin life as a temporary toe in the water, no matter where you wander some fresh foodie delights are never far off. Particularly tempting us in these temperatures is Scoop an exhibition on the sweet, soothing coolness of ice creams past and present.

<goes back to staring out of the window, listening for the ice cream van>

Joe Garbow is a full-time wordsmith and Account Assistant at Unity