Play Ping Pong Across London

british museum photo

Image from Ping!

What a way to meet someone new, get a bit of exercise, or just a laugh. It's ping pong, that easy going (or not) sport that anyone can play. Now, and for the next month, one hundred ping pong tables will pop up across London: in squares, pubs, Tube stations, Terminal 3 at the airport and the Tate Britain.

Last year there were 30 pianos strewn around town and this year it's Ping! From master classes to competitions and random acts of ping pong--it's all free, all over. Just put back the bat after you are finished.

ping pong photo

Image from london se1

It's all to do with fun and fitness. London is hosting the Olympics in 2012 and wants people to get in shape. Ping pong is an easy way to start. The intention is to get a million people playing more sport by 2012. Ping pong is a perfect entree: Sport England's latest Active People Survey indicated a 9,900-person increase in adults who reported playing table tennis at least once a week. Footballers such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Rio Ferdinand love it. Apparently in New York a ping pong palace with $650 annual membership fees is thriving.

train ping photo

Image from Ping!

The British call it whiff whaff...and claim that it was invented by the Victorians as an after-dinner amusement. Some historians believe the game was derived from outdoor tennis, while others believe it was originally played by British soldiers in India.

At the Beijing Olympics' closing ceremonies, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson famously said "There you have, I think, the essential difference between us and the rest of the world. Other nations such as the French looked at the dining table and saw the opportunity to have dinner. We looked at the dining table and saw an opportunity to play whiff whaff."

Some of the batty amusements being planned include a Literary Ping Pong Quiz at the British Library, Master classes across city squares, a Whiff Whaff lecture at the Geoffrye Museum, Singles For Singles: Find a partner at Golden Square, and Sing 'N' Ping at Victoria Embankment Gardens.

More on Free Pianos and Ping Pong
Free Pianos All Around Town: Play Me I'm Yours
Touring the Olympic 2012 Site

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