I could waste my time and yours by writing about the idiocies involved in writing an ESRC grant application which is what I've spent the better part of the last few weeks doing. But let's not go there. I'm now free for the moment from that Kafkaesque experience which I think I only survived thanks to the magnificent good sense of our departmental administrator and the calm guiding hand of our research services department.
It's much more pleasant to write about places and spaces I really like. One of my all time favourites is the Royal Festival Hall. What I like about it is that you don't have to have any particular reason for going there. Here is a large, public, indoor space in the centre of London where you can just go and hang out. There are comfortable chairs, free WiFi, a bar, restaurants, exhibitions, foyer events and people just sitting, talking, reading and watching the world go by. Nobody asks you what you are doing there, you don't have to buy or do anything. All this and just 35 minutes from my flat in the suburbs.The more I think about it the more incredible it is that in the 1980s somebody on the Arts Council resisted the bean counters and had the chutzpah to hold out for an open foyer policy. I take my hat off to them whoever they are. They should get a prize for creating a magnificent urban oasis.