“Hello hello! You’re listening to the sound of London. This is Londonist Out Loud.”
It’s no secret that I’m a bit of an Anglophile. A year ago yesterday, I was looking for the London Walks podcast in preparation of my upcoming trip to London over spring break. However, while searching iTunes, I found that Londonist.com had their own podcast. I downloaded the latest episode and gave it a listen. Look Up! gave me two new obsessions – this podcast and Katie Wignall’s Look Up London blog/Instagram/walking tours. It had never occurred to me to listen to a walking tour of a place of I wasn’t currently in, but I was immediately in love. I could picture some of things she mentioned as I walked home from work and made notes of things I wanted to look up. I immediately downloaded as many episodes as I could from the back catalog to bring London with me wherever I was.
So imagine my disappointment when the podcast stopped updating at the end of January. And then last weekend, there was this tweet:
To say I’m devastated that the show has ended just as I’ve finally caught up is putting it mildly. I understand that things happen and shows end, but I was just not prepared. And given that I’ve canceled my plans to go abroad for my vacation this year due to uncertainty at home, losing this connection to my favorite city in the world is really hard. So this is my small way of saying thank you to Londonist, N Quentin Woolf and all the people involved in making this my favorite podcast (even if I only discovered you a year ago).
There’ve been very few episodes that I haven’t loved, and each episode introduced me to a new guest, a new location, a new issue, a new bit of London history that I never knew before. N Quentin Woolf has a great way of pulling you right into whatever the topic is, making his guest feel at ease and keeping this light and moving, so I feel like I’m just walking down the street with them, living the London life.
I listened to a few episodes in March 2016 leading up to my trip, and then I took a break because I knew it would make me feel…not homesick per say, since London has never been my home, but I’d just miss London too much. I caught up on The British History Podcast for a while, and came back to LOL at the end of May/beginning of June last year. I was pleasantly surprised to interact with the host on Twitter:
@jennonthego spoiler alert: the Olympics go pretty well in the end.
— Londonist Out Loud (@londonistsound) June 2, 2016
And then a week or so later, I was listening to this episode and totally made an ass of myself, so of course, I had to tweet about it:
Apparently, it totally cracked up the host and I got ANOTHER shout out in that week’s podcast intro because I got so into the episode, I totally tried to exit my Muni bus before it stopped (0/10, do not recommend). AND he totally went on a deep dive on the #SFMuni hashtag to feel out pain at our inefficient transit system.
This show introduced me to so many topics I never would have heard about otherwise. Listening to London Particular, I got a headstart on that episode of The Crown where the FOG descends on London and people start dying. One of the most fascinating episodes was about the guy who uses the sounds of Tower Bridge in his music. I was completely moved to tears several times by the episode recorded at The Somme, listening to the men describe the devastation that still exists, a century later. I really enjoyed the episode about blind people in London and the services available to them. I had no preconceived notions about Croydon, but I was fascinated by the tour, and tried to follow along using Google Maps/Streetview.
Food and drink was a popular topic, whether it was Foodcycling (which we should totally have here!), a Food Tour of SoHo (where I was frantically taking notes for my next visit), or finding what’s new with London cocktails at the bar in the Shard (which made me want to visit the loo, so I can see all of the London while I pee, more than anything else). I also really loved the episode about celiacs as my best friend has Celiac disease, and I know it’s hard for her to travel because of it.
I was particularly struck by the two part series on the London housing crisis, given the housing situation in San Francisco. I often bring up the guest’s suggestion that if we built just another storey or two onto the housing footprints we have now, we’d have SO MUCH MORE housing without building skyscrapers that nobody wants in their neighborhoods.
I could go on and on about my favorite episodes (just looking at the archives, I can’t stop saying “ooh, I loved that one!”), but my absolute favorites both had to do with animals. As you know, I’ve always wanted to be a marine biologist (except that I’m terrible at math, science and swimming), so the episode about the harbour porpoises was AMAZING! I was absolutely fascinated to think of these marine mammals in the Thames to start and then to hear about these scientists counting them, listening to them and just studying their behavior was heaven.
My other absolute favorite was the trip to the Animal Reception area at Heathrow Airport. These areas must exist at all international airports, but I’d never really thought about it before. This is a fascinating topic to start, but I was struck by how absolutely nonchalant the guest was. Didn’t have a favorite animal or wacky story to share about any particular thing, just a man who was very good at his job and kept the animals going through customs comfortable and healthy. Absolutely delightful and this is when I really understood that this podcast was something special.
So after listening to nearly 100 episodes in a year, I have to say thank you Londonist Out Loud for everything and I hope you’ll be back one day!