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London Calling’s February Round Up

4 February 2015 | Josh Barrie

With dry January a distant memory it is time to watch possibly the most hyped movie of this century and stuff yourself silly with pancakes

Rejoice! Everyone’s allowed to drink again. Fetch the wine glasses and head to Aldi. Just in time to find love – if you don’t already have it, of course. February’s not just about doing away with drinking abstinence and Valentine’s Day though – remember there are pancakes, Chinese New Year, and one of the most hyped films of recent years is about to make an entrance.

Dinner and a movie? No? Didn’t think so. Instead, why not spend an evening denouncing anything and everything at ‘Down With Dating’, an anti-Valentine’s evening for the incredulous.

Obviously, if you’re smitten with someone, it’s not the one for you. But then chances are sorting something out comes easier than those without the need for a red rose and a bottle of something.

The thing is, such is the desire to shun Valentine’s Day each year it feels almost like the cause is now trying too hard. We get it: some people can’t be bothered with flowers and lipstick romance.

Down With Dating doesn’t look as though it’s ridiculing the celebration with any modicum of seriousness, however. It’s simply offering something different to those who feel less inclined to spend half their pay check on beautiful card from an independent gallery and dinner at one of Shoreditch’s restaurants with up-cycled furniture.

The event, on Wednesday February 11, starts at 7.30 and gives people the chance to take on a fake persona and wander around a room slagging off whatever they so choose (there are games, too). There’s also a gay version of the night on the following evening. It’s only a tenner!


Talking of love, though not in its more refined form, 50 Shades of Grey is due out this month, as if a knob of butter gently starting to sizzle in a frying pan of sex.

If you’re not aware of E.L. James’ 100-million copy selling erotic novel: respect. You’ve obviously been living at the International Space Station for the last few years. Because, whether you’ve read the trilogy or not, such is the notoriety of the texts that they’re now cemented into popular culture – and the film is no exception.

In fact, it looks as though it’s going to be a more delicate tapestry. No doubt will it fire up the cylinders of passion, but with Sam Taylor-Johnson, director of Nowhere Boy at the helm, and the likes of Kelly Marcel, of Saving Mr Banks, behind the script, chances are it’ll be well worth a watch. Then there’s Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson’s acting, just to further trumpet the proclaim its potential.

It’s set for release on February 13, so what better time to make full use of one of London’s glorious cinemas? “Mr Grey will see you now”. Indeed he will. Our advice is to take the opportunity.

That’s probably enough hot stuff for now. Let’s move on to sheep: This year’s animal in the Chinese calendar.

It’s said that London’s Chinese New Year festivities are the largest outside Asia, and every year the West End is flooded with revellers all eager to celebrate the country that gave us dim sum and all those incredible martial arts.

There’ll be happenings across the capital: alongside the most obvious, Chinatown, a big stage at Trafalgar Square will wash London with colour and song on Feb 22. There’s also a parade running from Duncannon Street to Shaftsbury Avenue, so expect brightly floats, artistic performances, food stalls and, naturally, lots of dragons. Chinese New Year itself will take place on February 19.

“London marks the arrival of Chinese New Year with the biggest celebration outside Asia with over 1,000 performers and volunteers preparing for the big day,” writes the Chinatown website.

It adds in excitement: “2015 will be the Year of the Sheep, a creature renowned in Chinese legend for its gentleness, kindness and warmth. The festivities begin at 10am on Sunday 22 February, with a New Year's Parade winding through London’s West End, before reaching its final destination in Chinatown.”

Something we’ve (most of us, at least) always loved about China is duck pancakes. And perhaps there lies a cunning culinary fusion: Chinese Pancake Day? It's worth a thought.

Alternatively, you might simply consider enjoying regular batter-filled circles. Yes, February, if nothing else, brings with it happiness in the form of pancakes – and aside from eating the dish there’s no better way to enjoy getting rid of all those eggs than watching a bunch of politicians have a race.

On Shrove Tuesday, February 17, MPs, Lords, and a few journalists hold a fundraiser for disabilities charity Rehab. Basically, the competitors have to flip pancakes continually around a course and it all gets very messy indeed.

It’s now in its 18th year and is completely free to attend. Who wouldn’t want to watch Parliament’s ‘finest’ all covered in flour? More info here.

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