An Englishman In Good Ol’ London Tahn…

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

As mentioned in a previous blog, I have a love of travel but do not get to exercise this love too often (and if you do it too often, you go blind…or something). So it’s an event when I do get to go into London, as I did today. I was in town for a photography project that needs me to show my love of travel with photographs. What can I say? It gave me an excuse to go out.

First step was acquiring a travel card, which start to pay for themselves if you visit enough places as I did. As I live in Slough (and therefore not within the Zones), I had to pay an extra cost to get into them. Once you’re in, it’s £7.50. This card covers you for everything, such as Tube travel and bus travel all through Zones 1-6.

As some of my friends know, I have wanted to visit the town of Brentford for quite a while now and today I got my chance. I never went with friends as I feared they’d get bored and not want to come out with me again. It was pretty interesting to see the town of Mr Robert Rankin’s excellent books in reality, including the very pretty Butts Estate. My only complaint was getting to it took quite a while, so it was about half past two by the time I arrived at the next destination on my list. This implies I had a written list of places to go. I had no such thing.

White City, near Shepherd’s Bush, is home to both the BBC Television Centre and possibly the most female-oriented shopping centre in existence. I am of course talking about Westfield, the place that has roughly three stores that do not sell clothes. Naturally mine was only a quick visit, I got lost trying to find the BBC.

Once I’d taken the photographs I needed of the BBC, I went to Tottenham Court Road to relive a fond memory. I went back to Forbidden Planet, where I met the previously mentioned Robert Rankin and he signed some of my books. There were so many pretty things there, I almost regret not taking much money with me.

After my case of Non-Buyer’s Remorse, I headed Southbound on the Northern Line to Clapham Common to visit another fond memory, this time one from my childhood. My father took me to Comet Miniatures when I was naught but a wee bairn. Comet Miniatures is a damn cool Nerd Collector’s Wet Dream. It features sci-fi collectables, anime stuff and model kits of famous starships. It took me a damn long time to find the place, but it was worth it in the end, as the place has not changed in ten years. Picture that. A world of collectables going unsold. The main appeal for me was seeing the old Thunderbirds stuff that I used to covet with a passion. I even own some of it now. I sadly left the shop and got on a bus towards Wimbledon, intending to ride it for the 17 minutes it took to get there then going somewhere else afterwards.

The damn thing took almost an hour due to rush hour traffic. I was reasonably entertained by the scenery, but still. I finally got to Wimbledon and hopped on a train, which rumbled along taking me to my next planned port of call.

Whitechapel has changed quite a bit since the famous Ripper murders of 1888-91 (as you’d expect, given that it’s 122 years later), but one thing I’m sure hasn’t changed since Jack’s time is the number of chippies and kebab shops. It was around dinner time, so I murdered some prostitutes and went to one of these average chippies (whose definition of ‘salad’ seemed to consist of ‘just put lettuce in’). I ate my dinner there, drank a can of ‘Pepsi Arabia’ that was made of liquid nitrogen and then ambled on towards Stepney Green. I somehow ended up at Aldgate Street, which for those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Whitechapel, is in the wrong fucking direction. I’d essentially gone backwards, although luckily (and I didn’t realise this at the time) it was actually closer to where I wanted to be, which was on a train heading towards Baker Street.

Baker Street is the home of the world’s favourite fictional consulting detective and his live-in lover, Dr. Watson. There is now a Sherlock Holmes museum where he was supposedly based (221 B Baker Street, for those of you living under a rock) and a plaque saying ‘Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective : 1881 – 1904’. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure those dates are wrong*.

After that, I headed to Paddington Station to catch the train home. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t an intercity train, but there we are. I’ve spent ten hours on my feet today, hopping from bus to train, walking, etc. And yet the curious thing is, I was never bored. I took two books with me but hardly touched them, as there was always something new to see if I looked out of the window or when I was out exploring, such as a workman randomly hitting a rusted pipe with a hammer for no apparent reason, or seeing a five-necked guitar in a shop in Soho (among other disturbing things). I saw the usual mix of shops with dubious names (including one called the Big Fat Panda. Apparently it was an all-you-can-eat restaurant.) and overall had a fun time.

*Just checked them. They’re wrong.

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