Event City

How to Eat, Drink and Educate Your Way Around London for Free

Tower Bridge

Know anything about JavaScript? Expert on financial planning? Well versed in coding? Me neither. But hey, why let that stop you from dining out and glugging one or two or three or four or more beverages for free in our fair London Town?

Truth is, your lack of tech or business or creative knowledge won’t stop you. There is a wealth of events and talks and meetups in this wide city of ours, and all you need to be good at is finding them.

But opportunities don’t just drop into your lap. It’s a craft, I’ve discovered, but not one that can’t be easily picked up by the dedicated of body and mind. In one particular week, used here for pure example, I was participant at evening events for seven days straight, where you were able to consume all the booze you could drink, all for no more than having your name ticked off on a list. Now, this isn’t to say I took part in a seven day drinking spree, far from it, but the point is that the opportunity is there. If you want to get a little tippled every day of the week, you can. And for nothing. Nix. Naught. Nada.

Food too, although in my brief experience not in as large quantities as alcohol, was still in plentiful enough supply that you could forget cooking for at least a couple of days a week, and fulfil your snacking needs at just about every place you enter.

What’s the secret? You have to own it … It’s not exactly the same as being dressed up in your best suit, ambling into a function room alongside Vince Vaughn in a scene from “Wedding Crashers”, but sometimes it feels pretty close. You have to walk enough walk so you can at least manage a little talk. Be genuine. Meet people and enjoy it. As long as you never forget to be open, you’ll never lose. Even a free glass of Tesco bought wine and a handful of Kettle crisps is still a win, in anyone’s books.

However, as much as the idea of free drink and munch has no doubt got you all in a thrifty frenzy, the true wealth on offer here is the enlightenment and education you have before your hopefully open eyes. Since I prised my own squinted eyelids open and embraced the positive experiences on offer, I’ve learned more about new ideas, inspirations, products, opportunity and endless other subjects of knowledge in the last month than I had done in the year previous. Once you cut away the brambles of habit and expose your spongy brain to what is out there, and how your access to it all is no more than a tube journey away, your mind opens innumerably.

So here I am, on a chilly Tuesday night, and on the menu today lays not fine wine, nibbles or craft beer, but access … Free access, into somewhere that you otherwise need to cough up towards the pointy side of eighteen pounds to gain entry into.

Sat comfortably so in the centre of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the bowels of London awash all around me, the ambling chatter gradually rises to its now rumbling murmur. What was upon my arrival a sea of empty brown seats, is now full of people. It indeed costs a pretty penny or two to get this close to the fine stone work and elaborately painted ceilings, on a normal day. However, all of us are in here for free. We’re awaiting a talk on Postcapitalisim by someone or some such who has written a rather long book about it all. I must admit I am intrigued, and enthusiastic to learn yet something more that a day before my knowledge was close to bankrupt in. But in truth, with total bleak honesty now spilling from my mind and off of your computer, table or iPhone screens, right now they could be in the revealing climax of a wet t-shirt contest, and my attention would still be locked to the immense nature of the innards of the grand structure I now sit in. This place is vast. And as they say about sensible cars and single share rooms on spareroom.com, it really does look a lot bigger from the inside that you would have first imagined. The far end of the ceiling ahead of me, in the ‘pointy top-of-the-cross bit’ of the cathedral has become my favourite feature within this great structure. It is the most colourful, and sparkles now like a Jeweller’s bazaar, in predominantly darker shades of green and crimson. With my vision all a flutter, small polite applause spurt into life, and the speaker begins to talk. The words sink into my head, but the echoes of his voice wash over me. In the distance a bell tower chimes. The place, the building, the setting steals the show.

Because that is what it’s all about. When you live in a city such as London, you must grab it firmly in both hands and turn that bugger upside down, like a freshly prised open piggy bank, shaking every last rattling penny out of the guts of it, until the spoils clatter onto the kitchen table in front of you. The opportunity is there. The opportunity for experience. And here I am telling you it’s there to be spent, right down to the last ten pence piece. Because after all that’s what London is, a city to be plundered, however you see fit, but plundered it must be. And as long as you do it in a nice way, you might even be able to do it for free. Sometimes at least … It is London after all. SH

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