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Don’t Go To #ThatLondon in 2012!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 Jul 2011

Just over a week ago I had a meeting in London and, due to the early start, I went the day before, which had the benefits of getting a cheap train ticket and a night’s accommodation is cheaper than the full-priced return ticket from Bath. Normally that’s the case, but when I used Laterooms (which, as I’ve described previously, I’m a happy user of), I found that the cheapest room available cost about £300! Eventually I managed to find a room for about £80 but it made me wonder why there was a shortage of reasonable-priced hotel accommodation that night (with one colleague from CETIS having to book hotel accommodation well outside the city centre. It seems the reason was the meeting was taking place during the Wimbledon fortnight – which I would probably have realised if I was a tennis fan rather than a football supporter!

I then realised that we would be encountering these difficulties to a much greater extent if we have trips to London, next year, during the Olympics 2012. And although they take place outside of the normal time for meetings and conferences (27 July – 12 August) we’ll need to bear in mind the various associated events, such as the Cultural Olympiad which culminates in the “London 2012 Festival, bringing leading artists from all over the world together from 21 June 2012 in the UK’s biggest ever festival“, to say nothing of the Rapperlympics, during which “rapper teams from across the globe descend on London to cross swords at the prestigious DERT tournament” of the weekend on 30 March – 1 April (thinks: the Olympic Committee will use anyone misusing the symbol of five interlocking circle -are five interlocking swords permitted?).

It seems then that those of us working in the public sector would be advised to avoided organising meetings and events in London at a time when the city is likely to be even more crowded than normal and venues and accommodation will be expensive.

As I suggested to JISC, this might provide an opportunity to explore ways in which technological solutions may be used to provide alternatives to travel, which may not only be particularly more cost-effective next summer but also provide environmental benefits. Now is the time to be exploring ways in which online meetings and events can become more embedded as alternatives to face-to-face meeting or amplified / hybrid events used to provide interested participants with the flexibility of choosing whether or not to travel (Monday’s workshop on “Metrics and Social Web Services: Quantitative Evidence for their Use and Impact“, for example, has about 50 registered participants with another 20 remote participants who will be watching the live video stream).

My initial thoughts were clearly based on use of video-streaming and related technologies. But inevitably we will be travelling to London on business purposes next year. How might we be able to share our experiences of possible problems in a lightweight fashion across the sector? It seems to me that the answer lies in Twitter, if we can agree on a common relevant hashtag.

I was reminded of these ideas yesterday after asking my colleague Paul Walk about a recent trip he had to London. On his way he tweeted:

Off to that London. I don’t regret moving away from London but sometimes I wonder how successfully I did…

Paul has used the expression “that London” on a number of occasions, and I wondered where it came from. Paul and I think we remember it from ‘kitchen sink dramas’ of the late 50s/ early 60s (Saturday Night & Sunday Morning’, perhaps). Last night I tried to discover the origin of the expression. This proved more difficult that I had expected – but it was also provided an interesting exercise in the various approaches to resource discovery which I though would be worth sharing.

I had little joy with a search for “that London” using Google. Initially if discovered “that London is the capital of England“! Using search terms such as “Origin of expression ‘That London’” gave no further insights, so at around midnight I asked by networks on Twitter and Facebook for their suggestions. A couple of people discovered the Harry Enfield “The Scousers go To Londonsketch from YouTube. Might the expression have originated from this popular comedy programme?

Dave Pattern pointed me in the direction of John Popham’s post on the Our Society blog on “What goes on in “That London?” in which he reflected on the differences in approaches to social action between the north and the south and suggested that:

Maybe the old northern adage is true after all, “they do things differently in that London”, but what they do affects us all.

This usage reflects my interpretation of the term with, as discussed on Twitter earlier today “that London” having a somewhat derogatory connotation.

If we wish to agree on a tag so that we can complain about the difficulties of travelling to London next year, the costs of the accommodation and the difficulties of finding something to eat, could we use the #ThatLondon hashtag, so that we avoid having to mint and then popularise a new tag? But perhaps this tag will be used in too many other contexts (I should add that the tag was mentioned in a comment by Paul Webster on John Popham’s post and I have created a TwapperKeeper archive in order to gain a better understanding of its current and future usage). My suggestion:

The #ThatLondon12 hashtag can be used to share experiences of problems and difficulties related to travelling to or being in London during the Olympic 2012 year.

Any takers? Or should we just use #’ThatLondon?

Meanwhile can anyone with better searching skills than I have find evidence of use of the “that London” term which predates Harry Enfield?

3 Responses to “Don’t Go To #ThatLondon in 2012!”

  1. Many thanks to Amanda Hill who tweeted the following reference:

    From 1891: “he cursed that London where the fog and smoke covered everything with a sticky crust of…germs


    This was seem to hint at the negative connotations associated with the term. However it should be pointed out that this was translated from German by George Schumm. Could “that London” have arisen from a mistranslation, I wonder?

  2. I use #thatlondon in my tweets too, so have followed your exploration with interest. Regardless of origins, what it means to me is people on my twitter stream, tweeting on mobiles as they travel from all parts of the UK into London. It is slighly negative in this context: it connotes a love/hate relationship to the english capital and the role it plays in my world of work. Its like taking a colloquial working class phrase and reclaiming it for the tweeting middle classes outside the centres of power. That’s my very personal take on what it means to me. And I do hope to avoid #thatlondon during next july. It should have been hosted in manchester and birmingham ;-)

  3. PatParslow said

    You might want to be careful about using the name of the capital and the date of the Olympics being held there together, I understand the organisers are quite uppity about people infringing on their brand. Though how they think they have any right to infringe on other people’s ability to refer to a city and a year, I don’t know.

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