Thursday, 9 April 2015

Things to London in London.

There’s a lot to be Londoned in this city of traffic lights and scaffolding. Here are some things I've already Londoned this year:

Found a sarcophagus I'd lost earlier

Having long ago invaded the tomb of Seti the First on a family trip to the Valley of the Kings, I finally stumbled across the alabaster sarcophagus missing from his tomb. It was stuffed inside an amazing little house in Holborn. Among marvels such as entire walls that open and close on hinges, the Sir John Soane's Museum also contains urns from Pompeii, ivory from India, and a complimentary umbrella service outside while you wait your turn.

Unearthed a hippo in my cereal

Some Shoreditch landmarks are so hipster they triple the speed of beard growth within a 10 mile radius, and the Cereal Killer Cafe is one such place. Having fought through the beard forest, I ordered lots of chocolate cereals in a bowl. With chocolate milk; and chocolate buttons on top (because YEAH). I found a tiny hippo in the bowl, so I ate that too.

Embarked on a pub crawl for the ages

Although I maintain that routinely meeting in the Ritz bar and ordering tap water is the classiest way to stay in touch with friends, this year a local hack and I decided to visit a different bar in Wandsworth every week. So far we’ve totaled 13, ranging from a yuppie bar that buses your drinks for you, to the oldest pub in the district, which apparently likes emptying the place by lighting up incense in one corner and letting amateur drummers practice in the other.

Hugged the Norse God of Thunder and War

At a beardy cousin's place on a gorgeous canal, I met a trickster God who mercifully took the form of a tiny soft Bengal kitten. I tried to take Loki's photograph but he attacked my camera because he's so cute:

As my own cat is busy reclining in the Scottish sun, I regularly take part in the pets of others. These include numerous marvelous cats, such as a fluffily judgemental duo belonging to a bonafide caterwauler, and an abundance of pub dogs, including a vast white cloud and a little one called Alfie, to whom I fed a dog treat out of a whiskey barrel.

Used a spy machine in the world's largest candy store

“Why?” The word echoes as you blink owlishly round this famous happening in Leicester Square. M&Ms World has four huge, crowded floors of bizarre, overpriced tat. M&Ms branded mugs, M&Ms branded rulers, M&Ms branded sand containers. £30 for a bracelet. £900 for a model of M&Ms playing in a band. And on the top floor is an enormous telescope that acts as a sort of spy machine with which you can look through the security cameras round the store and watch more owlish blinking. The list of weird things about M&Ms World is a thousand miles long, but at the top has to be the fact that it's a chain. London, New York, Las Vegas, Orlando. Why? Why?!

Steered James May in the Tobacco Dock

EGX Rezzed 2015 happened, a big but offbeat video games event which this year took place in a Grade I listed warehouse in the Docklands. There were games. Crowds. Indie devs running on flair, intensity, and hipster poverty. Bloodborne is not an indie game but I fell in love with it here, a branded lanyard being barely tolerable consolation for my lack of PS4. I can never truly play Bloodborne.

Anyway, at Rezzed I mixed with lively sorts, including a familiar name on the Total War community team: chatting almost turned to networking, but luckily he did a little dance and stopped that from happening. I also met people from my boyfriend's dark and degenerate past. One of them was on a game jam team that in 8 short hours magicked up 'Top Gear: Evolved', a ridiculously entertaining little game in which you must protect the producer from Jeremy Clarkson's uppercut. I was James May. I was not good at it. Rezzed was fun.

[screencap via]

Learned no life lessons from a million Lego bricks

The Art of the Brick is an exhibition on Brick Lane (get it? Bricks), featuring sculptures made from over a million LEGO® brand build™ing bricks. They were impressive overall, but it got silly when it got serious. The sculptor apparently felt obliged to turn half of these playful models into meaningful statements. “Swim against the current”, advised a Lego sculpture of a swimmer. “Follow your own path. Find the courage within”. Okay thanks. Also, what?

I gotta add: while these sculptures are cool, they seem to skip the joy of Lego, which is surely to create rainbow-coloured constructions of made-up nonsense, not carefully piece together something that is uniform, elegant, and easily identifiable.

Met the world's smallest otters

Now I have an otter called Chopsticks, though he is, at least, a pretend otter. I saw real ones at the London Wetland Centre, a lovely spread of squishy urban countryside through which we pottered, observing trillions of birds going about their Spring. One of the strangest, mammaliest bird species was the Asian short-clawed otter. Two of them! So squeaky they were, and splashy also.

Walked 140 feet above the Thames

Obviously the Fourth Rail Bridge is the best bridge in the world. Tower Bridge, in the meantime, comes in at an unbiased #6, though bridge-gazers do insist on admiring it from every possible angle. Directly above, for instance, while half a tonne of glass sparkles beneath your Converse. Almost as enjoyable as strolling over the traffic is watching people edge tentatively around the see-through panels as if they’re all that lie between them and a fatal drop. (Which they are.)

Planned my escape

There’s a lot of Londoning to be Londoned in London, but no matter where you go there will always be someone walking so close in front of you that the tips of your shoes graze the heels of theirs. So you have to go to the mountains. I’ll be doing that for several days in May as me and a Northerner head to the Lake District and walk off posh cider and overpriced carrot cake with hours of sunlit wilderness.

Then back to London for tap water at the Ritz.

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