Date idea: The alternative guide to the universe

Hello Lovestruckers, you’ve got a date coming up: it’s summer, it’s hot (for now) and, consequently, the streets of London are teeming with people.

So where do you take your date-to-be and how do you impress them once you get there? Read on for the London crib-sheet every singleton needs.

Twelve events in a dual universe (1978). Photo: Linda Nylind.

Twelve events in a dual universe (1978). Photo: Linda Nylind.


Try visiting the Alternative Guide to the Universe at The Hayward Gallery. Don’t let the word’s ‘guide’ or ‘gallery’ put you off, this exhibition is all about thinking outside of the box and it comes with a warning of nudity – so you won’t be spending the afternoon with a coachload of senior citizens. On the other hand . . .


Prepare to be ushered into the universe as perceived by our generation’s great, and eccentric, thinkers. But forget Einstein and Darwin, this is the world translated into sci-fi. Think blueprints for time-travel, reimagined alphabets and machines that magic people back to health. If you’ve ever wished there was a way to bend the rules of science to your will, or read a Terry Pratchett novel, then you’ll find something to make you smile in this bizarre exhibition.


The Hayward Gallery, London’s Southbank. The gallery is tucked away on one of the upper levels of the Southbank centre. If you approach from the river, look for the arrestingly yellow spiral staircase. Watch out for the erratic fountains on your way in and out – crossing paths with a geyser is guaranteed to make you look silly (unless you look as good in wet shirt as Colin Firth or Denise ‘Wild Things’ Richards do).


£11 per person. So not as ruinously expensive as Madame Tussauds, but not as deliciously cheap as a McFlurry on Bethnal Green. But buying tickets in advance is a must, there’s nothing worse than awkward queue-talk. Except perhaps being told that the show’s sold out…


If this all sounds a little confusing for a Sunday afternoon, there’s always the plethora of riverside pop-ups to fall back on. Try Wahaca, Mexican cuisine dished up in a restaurant built from 8 recycled shipping containers, or the bar attached to National Theatre’s temporary summer theatre space, The Shed (that huge red, well, shed). The Real Food Market is also great for coffee or street food, follow your nose. Outsider Tart (an American bakers) is particularly tempting. (Open Friday- Sunday, 11:00/12:00-18:00/20:00.)


Your ticket price includes entry to The Museum of Everything’s ‘special added attraction’ (an exhibition of Nek Chand Saini’s stone sculptures), so make sure you check this out too. In their own words, The Museum of Everything is the ‘world’s only travelling museum for undiscovered, unintentional and untrained artists from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries’. Perfect for an off-beat date then. Casually mention the 2009 opening of the nomadic museum which took place in Primrose Hill and featured Nek Chand’s work alongside 499 other works by self-taught artists.

DON’T SAY ‘My five-year-old could have done that.’

DO ASK ‘If you could mastermind one invention, what would it be?’


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