‘We’re visiting the big city for May half-term’, Country Mouse babbled excitedly down a crackling phone line. ‘Can you find out what’s going on and plan an itinerary?’
I’d finished describing a cunning publication called ‘Time Out’ before I realised that the Enormous Apple of which she spoke was actually Lewes. Her perspective’s sure been shot to ribbons since her move to Cold Comfort Farm.
‘Get researching’, she squeaked, ‘Ollie says he wants to see and do everything.’
As Oliver is two this might have been parental ventriloquism but I dutifully fired up the laptop and called on Ask Jeeves, part of my rearguard action against Google hegemony.
The obvious first port of call was Viva Lewes, but as you, discerning reader, are doubtless already tuned in to this wondrous gazette, and as I needed to find events three weeks’ hence, I surfed on.
My other favourite local site is Lewes.co.uk, with its strangely compelling forum debates. After a brief lurk at a thread on people’s favourite seafood (mussels, save you having to look), I explored ‘what’s on’. Details for the end of May were a bit thin: the only listing for Sunday was the Lewes Bus Rally (see you there!)
The restaurant pages were fascinating. I was astonished at how many there were, till I noticed that new places, like Artisan, were simply added to raves from the grave, such as Leonies, memorable from the ‘90s because it embodied the truism that just because a waitress is dressed like a Lyons Corner House nippy doesn’t mean she will necessarily be efficient.
Bearing in mind Country Mouse’s recent rudeness about the pungent smells around town, I printed the restaurant list for her and circled Thackerays and Ransomes in red biro.
I then had Jeeves fetch me Lewes online, though their ‘what’s on’ section lazily directed me to the Lewes District Council website. ‘Why bother having it at all?’ I harrumphed, but obediently followed the link, where the only excitement was a nearly-new sale in Ringmer.
I returned sulkily to Lewes online and looked up their ‘top ten things to do in Lewes’. Number two was ‘go to the pub’, which I could have worked out for myself.
Finally, I jeevesed (hey, google’s a verb, get with it daddio), ‘what’s on in Lewes?’, and stumbled upon the strange world of wherecanwego.com. For some unspecified reason, its focus was children in danger. Two events were paediatric first aid courses (one specifically targeted at the choking infant), while another, rightly so under the circs, was a parenting class. The next listing was baby massage; just the job to soothe your child after it’s nearly choked. The last listing was a calmer birth workshop but it seemed a trifle late for that.
I told wherecanwego where to go and rang Country Mouse back. ‘Have you considered spending the holidays in London?’ I asked. ‘It might be more interesting, and it’ll certainly be safer for Oliver.’
Beth Miller, 6th May 2009. Spiked by Viva Lewes. Photo by Clipart