This is where we begin

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The Independent Online
London is a great and fascinating city, full of interest and opportunities for enjoyment; London is gruelling and frustrating city where simply getting from place to place can be a trial. London is one of the centres of civilisation in Europe, excelling in music and theatre, boasting a pantheon of cultural giants. And yet it makes a very poor fist at educating most of its children.

It is the most complex human structure in the British isles, yet thanks to the depredations of Margaret Thatcher, there is no governing body to plan it and run it. Unlike any other city you can think of, it has no mayor to represent it.

To live in or around London is to live in a vast conurbation. But for the most part, on most days, the majority of us live in neighbourhoods and treat them like villages; for the inhabitants of Twickenham, Edgware might as well be on Mars.

And yet we ignore the totality of our city at our peril; for London is also one mighty organism and the health or sickness of one part often ends up affecting the whole. The recent history of crime or education or transport offers ample evidence.

It is into this maze of paradoxes that today we introduce Independent London. Its aim is to be entertaining and useful and to make London more useful and entertaining. It will tell you, better than any other daily publication, what you can do in London and what London can do for you.

We hope over the weeks, months and years, through your insights and our own, to report London in the way which is most pertinent to you, and to apply the pressure of journalistic commitment where it will help most.

Let us begin with some basics. The listing of arts, entertainment and events that we shall offer will be more comprehensive than any other daily publication and, we intend, more useful too. Starting from the premise that you are often likely to look for entertainment in the area around where you live or work, we have - with the exception of Central London - done away with the alphabetical system and replaced it with one based on geography. Our listings are broken up into north, south, east and west - no longer do you travel from Golders Green to Hampstead via Greenwich and Hammersmith. And we are not going to offer you simply the name of a venue and the meaningless name of an artist you haven't heard of - who are/what is Ned's Atomic Dustbin and should they/it really draw you to the Grand, Clapham Junction tonight? We shall tell you, or at least give you a hint.

In our news reporting, we shall endeavour to give a sense of what is happening in and to this city, but we shall give particular attention to those areas of greatest concern to our readers - such as housing, education, health, crime and transport. And where concentration on a specific situation will either help our readers as individuals or is needed to improve the behaviour of those responsible, we shall endeavour to provide it.

These are the principles we shall try to apply each week day, though on Friday we shall also apply the equally important principle of being as helpful as pos-sible about what you can do at the weekend.

And, in the spirit of practicality, we shall each day, inside the back page, enter a different area of usefulness. On Mondays, education and courses available in London; on Tuesday, travel (not in London but out of it); on Wednesday, property; Thursday, cars and Friday shopping.

As to our cover story and first feature, we shall run the gamut from serious, to light, to angry, to downright silly. And sometimes, as in Peter Popham's 24-hour loiter in Piccadilly Circus, we shall just be watching the world go by. That is one of the pleasures at which London excels.