10 things that in a way defined this year in London

Let’s be honest, this year did not exactly get off to a good start. It was cold, it was gloomy and everything was closed. But hey, at least we all had plenty of time to binge-watch and cry over the really excellent TV show ‘It’s a Sin’. And do you remember when it snowed back then in January? It was nice.

But if we’ve learned one thing from this year, it’s that London is robust. When the great outdoor hospitality reopened in April cruelly coincided with heavy rain showers, we dutifully sat and sipped cold pints under dripping wet pub garden umbrellas. And you know what? We were ecstatic about it.

While everything unlocked, Londoners flocked to restaurants, bars, cafes, theaters, cinemas, galleries and museums, reminding ourselves why we love this city. This year saw the sweaty, joyful and euphoric return of festivals and clubs. It was the year that football really, almost, actually came home. It was the year we all laughed at stupid things like Marble Arch Mound and a man who charged thousands of pounds for salty meatballs. In a year that started so horribly, 2021 has not been without joy.

At the time of writing, things are feeling insecure again. As we have learned from the last (almost) two years, the situation can change from one day to the next. But now we know that no matter how shit everything gets, Londoners still know how to laugh, they’re still buzzing with creativity and new ideas – and there’s always a chance that someone might even stick their ass up in the name of football .

So here we are going to celebrate the biggest things that happened this year. See you on the other side.

Darjeeling Express riz ahmed asma khan
Photo: Darjeeling Express

1. All the celebrities discovered Darjeeling Express

The development of chef Asma Khan’s restaurant Darjeeling Express is nothing short of incredible. After starting to hold dinner in her home, she opened her first restaurant in 2017. Late last year (after delays thanks to Covid), she opened a new and larger Darjeeling Express in Covent Garden. Her loyal following has continued to grow this year, but her fans are not just Londoners. In 2021, a barrage of Hollywood stars flocked to her restaurant, including Paul Rudd (he’s practically a regular), Dan Levy and Riz Ahmed. Which A-lists will appear in 2022? Time will tell.

salt bae
Photo: Laurent Koffel / Getty

Salt Bae made the biggest rip-off ever

You kind of have to admire the ballsiness of Nusret Gökçe aka Salt Bae, who opened his first London restaurant this year. He’s created a cult-like hype about throwing salt on meatballs, and now players are picking up £ 37,000 bills after a meal with sodium.

saoirse ronan
Photo: Marc Brenner

3. All A-lists returned to the London scene

A sign that the theater is returning is the number of celebs who have graced the stage this year. There was Michael Sheen in the National Theatre’s reopening show ‘Under Milk Wood’, Hollywood superstar Saoirse Ronan in a hot-ticket ‘Macbeth’ at Almeida and Eddie Redmayne’s first stage excursion in eternity, in a highly hyped revival of ‘Cabaret’.

housing solutions
Photo: Simon J Harvey

4. There was a revolutionary response to London’s severe sleep crisis

In October, an innovative solution arrived at Tottenham to help the city’s homeless: 33 ‘pod homes’, which aim to provide a more stable base than the streets, hostels or shelters for hard sleepers, and help them move on to permanent housing . They are about 24 square meters and have a living room, kitchenette, desk, washing machine and separate bedroom and bathroom. Of course, they may look like gray shipping containers, but inside they are much nicer than many of the dingy leases in London at Rightmove. And they cost around £ 5 a week in operating costs, which is not bad at all. Here is the hope that this is only the beginning.

Photo: Nicola Dove_ © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM

5. ‘No Time to Die’ var finally released

At what felt like the seventeenth attempt, ‘No Time to Die’ was finally released this year – and it was worth the wait. Aside from a creepy villain and an ending that upset purists, it went beyond expectation, and ticket sales were a lifeline for the city’s hard-pressed cinemas.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

6. Andrew Lloyd Webber had an endless saga with ‘Cinderella’

The most captivating Andrew Lloyd Webber show since ‘Phantom …’ was not his new musical ‘Cinderella’, but his painful struggle to get the damn thing open. He declared that he would rather be in prison than open it with social distancing; he rejected the Prime Minister’s risky offer of a special dispensation for his show; and he pulled it all for a few weeks at the height of the ping-deme.

the marble arch mound
Photo: cktravels-Shutterstock

7. The city got an absurd new landmark

Marble Arch Mound was announced in February for universal whaaaaa? An artificial viewing platform overlooking Hyde Park, its apparent futility was confirmed by its subsequent career. It opened before it was finished, closed down, reopened, hosted an infinite room in its scaffolding-supported belly, led to council resignation and finally went free, after costing £ 6 million. It was this year’s Havebro. Except it actually happened.

Emma Raducanu
Photo: TPN_Getty Images

8. A London teenager became the capital’s greatest high priest

What did you do as an 18-year-old? Whatever it was, tennis player Emma Raducanu made us all feel like absolute players by comparison when she won the US Open final in September when she had just finished her A-levels. Born in Canada but raised in Bromley, she became the first British woman to win the trophy in more than 40 years. Afterwards, she became a household name and was invited to the Met Gala. A little different atmosphere than going to a reading festival after your exams, right?

Photo: The Stock Pot / Shutterstock.com

9. There were rumors of a MegaGreggs coming to Leicester Square

Sure, old grain sourdough is amazing and all, but you know what’s really amazing? Greggs. And do you know what’s even better? MegaGreggs. Therefore, Londoners went berserk over the news that the high street icon might, perhaps (definitely?) Open a large department in Leicester Square. It submitted plans to Westminster City Council this year and could open in February 2022, which would coincide with the moment you give up all the ‘New Year, enjoy yourself’ stuff and return to your sausage-swallowing ways.

And finally…

Ass Flare Man
Photo: Elliott Franks

10. A man stuck a flare up in his ass at Wembley during the European Championships

Now look back at the ten best London theater performances of 2021.

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