Saturday, 7 November 2009

Day 7

NORF! That is, Marylebone, Baker Street (and Madame Tussauds, though I didn't pay, obviously), and Camden Camden Camden. Camden Town. Camden Market. I bought something there just to see if I could haggle. I succeeded! Sort of. Camden Market Hall; looks like Russell Brand has been injected into a middle-eastern bazaar (and the etiquette was startlingly similar). Chalk Farm. Camden Lock Village. Camden Lock. There was a café my friend took me to where we had a picture-perfect view of the lock. The Camden Lock markets are fantastic; genuinely exciting and beautiful and fascinating.

Camden Lock Stables, which was a stables and horse hospital for the horses that would take the barges along the canal. Hundreds of shops are jammed into massive Victorian archways, and they've made a great show of huge horse statues frozen in time as they motionlessly canter down the infinite, floorboarded lanes of antique mirrors and clothes and literally every other thing you can think of. And things you can't think of too, like Cyberdog.

I also tried Regent's Park, which has gone a wee bit overboard. Seaton Park in Aberdeen is fine and dandy, but Regent's Park is just getting silly.

I got lost, of course. A lot! Heee. Especially seeing as the more renowned streets you wander down, the less the city bothers with streetsigns. "You've got this far; you must know where you are by now. And if not, we don't want you". But it was all fine, because I could ask directions. I thought students might be the best to ask, unless they're the youngest-looking flavour and therefore haven't been in the city long, but it transpires that middle-aged women are best. Because they want to know exactly where you're going, and then where you're going after that, and then the names of your second cousins and your dog and your star sign and bleh.

Unfortunately, though, all this walking I'm doing is making it harder for me to get lost. I miss asking people for directions. So I did it anyway, a couple of times, even though I knew exactly where I was. Once because there was a fella in a beret, and I wanted to see if he had a French accent (he did!), and once because there was a very well-groomed, bearded old gentleman who looked too good for someone to ask directions from. So I asked, and he was awfae nice.

Unlike on Oxford Street, I actually enjoy the crowds in Camden. Everyone's different/the same, and nobody's really proper. There were police sirens blaring from the middle of traffic jams ("we're all in a rush, mate -- you can wait your turn like the rest of us"), and a man who looked like a Slitheen from Doctor Who swerving round a guy who suddenly yelled "there's no black in the Union Jack!", at which point a black woman yelled back "yeah, but there's a lot of red in it!" I walked on for about five minutes before I actually understood her point.

A real life Londoner (I imagine there's a lot of them here, because this is a) real life and b) London) taught me how to cross roads properly. If there's a green man, you can cross. If there's a red man, you can cross. If there's no cars coming, you can cross. If there's cars coming, you can cross. I have been following this advice, and have not yet stopped at a road, scuttled, or been run over! Early days.

It's dark now, and I'm indoors because it's not easy to see the monopoly board in the dark. But I've sort of come to the conclusion that London must be very safe... at least theoretically... because there's so many people around everywhere, at all times. So darkness will no longer stop me!

Tomorrow: souf!

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