The issue of isolation has been very much on the agenda this chilly January, with the government appointing its first minister for loneliness. Wimbledon has been on national ITV news because it has such a fantastic story to tell in combating what has become a modern epidemic.
Two local cultural businesses – The Alexandra pub, and the Sound Lounge music venue and community cafe – have launched free weekly meet ups for people who feel lonely. The Alex has already featured on ITV News for blunt-spoken landlord Mick Dore’s community-spirited exploits.
You can read my article and see Rebecca Cresta’s wonderful photos from the Alex and the Sound Lounge on my blog, but why just leave it at reading about it? We sometimes forget that the point of arts and culture is to bring people together. A performance, or a piece of art, or a cultural gathering, is a shared experience. Perhaps we should all make a resolution to exchange a few words with someone new when we go out.
So why not go along and celebrate Burns Night at the Alex on Thursday January 25, and enjoy a three course Scottish feast of Cullen Skink, Haggis and Cranachan, lashings of whisky, dancing, and some genuine human contact? Tickets £22.50, nearly sold out.
The Mayor of Merton, Cllr Marsie Skeete, is a fabulous figurehead for the borough, and also a focus for community get togethers. On January 27 she holds her Mayor’s Winter Warmer celebration of Merton music making at St Mark’s Academy in Mitcham from 6.30pm-9pm, with proceeds going to the fantastic work of the Commonside Community Development Trust. Tickets £5 (under 5s free).
Sunday night sees a couple of crowd-pleasers in local theatres, with brilliant Irish comedian Ed Byrne bringing his latest routine Spoiler Alert to the Rose Theatre, Kingston, while the popular Strictly professional dancer Brendan Cole performs his spectacular show All Night Long at the New Wimbledon Theatre, 7.30pm, tickets £30-£60.
And for an unusual communal experience, why not book the Finnish Sauna in the roofgarden of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where you can sit in your swimming costume basking in the heat while staring at a panoramic view over the river Thames? £20-£25 for a 70 min time slot.
Also on this week:
January 18-20: Wimbledon painter Jo Holdsworth is showing her work in the VisuallyLiterate.2 exhibition at the @MenierGallery in the Menier Chocolate Factory, 51 Southwark St, SE1, 11am-6pm (ends 4.30pm Saturday).
January 19: Islands in the Stream, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers tribute show, New Wimbledon Theatre, 7.30pm £24-£28.
January 25: Noggin the Nog, nostalgic show for young children and adults with Vikings, silly puppets and music, at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.
January 26: Comedy Night with sketches, improvisation and music, at the Colour House Theatre, Merton Abbey Mills. 8pm, £5.
Have a great week, and don’t forget to keep an eye on Twitter for more events and happenings around Wimbledon this week.