That man with his glasses on top of his head is me doing my best to be charming and coherent at yesterday evening’s On London Christmas Party and End Of Year Review, which I can only describe as having been a great joy and a success because that is exactly what it was.
I’m not being boastful here: practically everyone who came told me or one of the members of my family who were also there how much they enjoyed themselves, and I think it unlikely that so many people would all have told the same fib at the same time.
Lots of On London supporters were there, meaning I was able to meet and thank a number of them in person for the first time. Many of On London‘s most distinguished writers were in attendance too, along with an array of luminaries from London government, academic, business, architectural, media and community organisations. Several did me the honour of speaking from the stage about how 2023 has been for them, adding a few thoughts about the future. How’s this for a line-up?
- Rosanna Lawes, the London Legacy Development Corporation’s executive director of development.
- Sem Moema, London Assembly member for the North East constituency (and a Hackney councillor).
- Darren Rodwell, London Councils executive member for regeneration, housing and planning (and leader of Barking & Dagenham Council).
- Denean Rowe, project manager, Planning Aid for London.
- Antonia Jennings, chief executive, Centre for London.
As if that galaxy of stars did not shine brightly enough, the evening was also illuminated by one of Robert Gordon Clark (below) and Professor Tony Travers‘s legendary London quizzes. A particular highlight for me was the question about which two points are geographically furthest apart: Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly stations, or Upminster and Uxbridge stations. Clue: London is a very big place.
The event took place at the Hadley Property Group’s LightHouse and Gardens space on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where in the fullness of time a whole new piece of the London 2012 legacy will come out of the ground. As well as making their venue available, Hadley, notably in the form of Lisa Jones, were incredibly helpful with organising catering – delicious food and drink provided by Grow, Hackney.
On London would also like to warmly thank the Central District Alliance BID which, as last year, very kindly sponsored the event. CDA chair Alexander Jan said some very nice things about the website, to which he is also a top contributor. He did pretty well in the quiz too.
At the beginning, I said it had been a difficult year for far too many Londoners, who’ve had to cope with a range of material and community anxieties; a year in which we’ve seen our multitude of housing crises deepen; and a year in which the financial pressures on London government have increased yet again.
I tried to strike a more upbeat note as well, pointing out that our city is still a place of opportunity, possibility and wonder, and that we need to continue to hope and, crucially, to argue for, better in 2024.
There is a great deal of agreement, including across party political lines, about what London needs more of in order to make the best of itself and to do its best for the rest of the country. On London will continue to do its best to contribute to that effort in 2024.
Finally, thank you again to everyone who came!
The great majority of On London‘s income comes from people who support the website and its writers by giving us £5 a month or £50 a year. They receive in return my Friday morning newsletter On London Extra and offers of free tickets to top London events – such as the On London Christmas Party and End of Year Review! If you aren’t a supporter already, you can become one by way of any “donate” button on the website itself, by becoming a paying subscriber to my personal Substack, or by asking for my media empire’s bank account details (email email@example.com). Thank you.