I was watching Newsnight the other day, and the leader of the UK Uncut movement came on to describe how the protests came about: “a bunch of us were down the pub, and we thought, ‘why not?'”
That’s what happens when you get people together in pubs. Nothing happens just by watching Newsnight — nobody leaps out of their armchair and takes action.
So I leaped out of my armchair and did something about it: I decided that we need a forum, a forum where we could drink and argue, and have those “why not?” moments.
Probably my favourite thing about London is the great variety of drink tanks that have appeared in recent years. One of my favourites is Skeptics In The Pub — the monthly pub event that, in addition to being interesting and entertaining, has helped inspire countless blogs and podcasts and even several “mainstream media” books and columns, and which spawned campaigns including libel reform and 10:23. Put a bunch of passionate and intelligent people together in a pub and stuff happens.
Sorry, pathos over. It’s just an excuse to go to the pub with some interesting people, plus a short talk from an expert speaker to give you something to talk about.
So ours is called Street Talks. Basically, it’s about transport and the built environment — the places we live and the policies which affect them — with a heavy and unavoidable London bias. Tom Barry, editor of the brilliant Boriswatch, is our first speaker, on Tuesday 8th March at The Yorkshire Grey. A hardcore transport nerd, Tom not only “reads through TfL Board minutes so you don’t have to,” he even keeps an eye on the TfL traffic cams to document the traffic jams created by Philip Hammond’s removal of the M4 bus lane — I’m very happy he agreed to give us a “State of The City Address” to kick things off. Later in the year we have Jim Davis from the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, Andrew Cameron, author of the new government guidance for street design Manual For Streets, and, soon to be confirmed, several other experts from across much the same spectrum of topics as are covered on this blog.
The Yorkshire Grey is on Grays Inn Road/Clerkenwell Road, a short walk from King’s Cross, Farringdon, or Chancery Lane. There’s a hire bike station on Nothington Street, the next side street up GIR. You don’t need to book, and we ask only for a quid to help cover the speaker’s costs.