It is only when everyone leaves that London comes alive

The Viagra raids in Soho were too late. It's in the national bloodstrea m. Priapus reigns


I know, I know - it's a bit unusual to be sending out "Wish you were here" notes when I'm the one stuck at home, but I simply couldn't resist! I thought of you all on your holiday, sitting in the shade, sipping something exotic, your family and friends playing attractively nearby, congratulating yourselves on having "got away from it all".

It occurred to me that, although you're not ungenerous people, you might be feeling slightly smug. Every evening as the agreeable local wine flows at that remarkably unspoilt little hostelry you've discovered, you'll be speculating about what those of us left behind are doing. You'll make jokes about the weather, the repeats on TV, the foreign tourists seething like soldier ants through the underground. Soon you'll send us a postcard, smeared with sun-tan lotion in which you will attempt to conjure up the divine weather, the startlingly blue sea and something rather hilarious that happened at a mock bullfight down in the village.

Don't bother. The fact is that, ever since you left, London has been the most fantastic place on earth. Within seconds of the dreary holiday- addicts clambering on to their plane or pulling out of the crescent in their laden hatchback, the place came alive. Here are just a few of the things that have been happening in this gorgeous capital during the happiest, zaniest month of the year.

Poets have been taking their clothes off. Don't laugh, it's true and it's very beautiful. At the ICA's First International Festival of Naked Poetry, the latest literary fashion to hit Europe has been playing to packed, strangely silent and absorbed audiences. Poetry declaimed in the buff, the ICA's curator has revealed, "creates a greater spiritual connection with audiences".

Yeah right, you'll say, remembering pictures of Allen Ginsberg, squatting plump and naked on the stage at the Albert Hall, reading Blake and discussing masturbation. But no, this is the lovely young French writer Emmanuelle Waeckerle (even her name's a poem), the hunky St Petersburg couplet Tim Gadaski and Vladimir Yaremenko. The word in the Poetry Society is that these are the most physically perfect versifiers since Ted Hughes first arrived in London, emanating such a powerful sexual aura that women were physically sick at the sight of him.

As you sit, palely leering at naked foreigners on the nudist beach and then guiltily visit a local church to top up your cultural intake, those of us at home are getting naked foreigners and culture in one erotic yet intellectually stimulating hit.

There have been Viagra raids in Soho. But they were too late! It's in the national bloodstream. Priapus reigns. Strangers make love in the fountain in Trafalgar Square, sometimes for days on end. Naked European performance poets have caused sex riots in the Mall. At the Lambeth Conference, bishops are unable to discuss anything but varying aspects of contemporary physical relations.

Frank Field has been unmasked. D'you remember, when the Government's first cabinet was announced how the most intelligent, creative, morally unsullied minister was Frank Field - how he showed that New Labour was more than just image, spin and cynicism. Apparently that was all a fantastically sophisticated joke. We now discover that he was grindingly ambitious and, far from thinking the unthinkable, he wasn't much good at thinking at all. Who said that the Government had no sense of irony?

Everyone's bumping up, according to Jay McInerney. In town to promote his new novel, America's hippest fictioneer revealed that, while his fellow countrymen have become thin-lipped and puritanical on the subject of drugs, something called "a cocaine culture" has London in its grip. "I can't even get in the bathroom in Soho because everyone's bumping up," he complained to one interviewer. See what I mean? London's too hot even for Jay McInerney - that's how groovy it is.

Ann Widdecombe has become an icon. When you left, she was a slightly sinister, morally superior woman from a discredited former government. Now she's the most adored, cuddliest woman in Britain, a heroine of chatshows and celebrity quizzes and the wacky co-host of The Big Breakfast with Johnny Vaughan. And guess what - the single she released with the chanteuse Louise Something of the Night has already gone platinum!

Still, you probably think you're having a better time, sitting out there, as tanned and wrinkled as an old avocado, gloomily reassessing your life as your holiday grinds on. Back here, we don't envy you one bit.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing