Wednesday, 11 March 2015


Beauty, some say, is in the eye of the beholder and that 'Beauty comes from within' or, one more and my particular favourite when consoling ugly people 'its not important what you look like on the outside but (both hands clasped to heart) 'what is on the inside that counts'. 

These condescending ramblings are perfect for Twitter 'Bio's' and also all pertinent to the buildings that make up the Southbank area of South London. Festival Hall has the audacity to have Royal ahead of its name and the Haywood Gallery is possibly the ugliest use of concrete outside of a Bulgarian social housing estate. Their own website calls it 'brutal architecture' and 'last of few remaining' but that's because, thankfully, they managed to demolish all the others before the idiots that handed this eyesore a Grade 1 listed status could cause any more trouble.

Squeezed between the bridges of Westminster and Waterloo the Southbank, as it is now known, does however have beauty on the inside.

The area has reinvented itself as the trendy, arty part of town. With the Royal Festival Hall playing diversity from Gershwin through to Gary Nyman and the Cappella Choral Composition to Comedy in the Dark (April 2015 listings) there is something for everyone.

Being honest there isn't much I'd personally want to go and see but that says more about me than anyone else. The dozens of acts that perform here are, perhaps, away from the mainstream so it is fantastic that London has a centre to showcase such talent and give people a chance to go and see them.

Thursday 9th April sees the Opening Gala of the very popular Underbelly Festival where Violet the Upside Down Cow returns to form the main stage for a range of different acts allowing, among many others, acrobats, comedians and the Amazing Bubble Man to perform throughout the month (

With a range of excellent restaurants and cafes dotted around the halls including Wagamama, Le Pain Quotidian and Giraffe you can now spend a whole day at the Southbank Centre. If you go, as most will, between Friday and Sunday there is the awesome (and I don't use that word lightly) Real Food Market giving up to 40 different stalls cooking food from around the world.

Festival Hall cost £2 million to build (admittedly in 1951 when £2 million meant something) and £111 million to renovate (2007). To me, it is as evident as to why it was so cheap to build as it is impossible to see where the £111 million improvements are but this doesn't really matter because this ugly set of sisters has all its real joy from within.

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