Yesterday was a beautiful day. As soon as I got into London and booked into my hotel, I had a few hours to spare before going to see Will Self. I got the tube to Oxford Circus and started my walk.
I love being out and about and walking the streets. It gives me the chance to observe other poeple, take stock of the scene and get my head showered. London is especially good for this. There are so many people to bump into and so many nationalities to observe.
I walked along Oxford Street, piles of shoppers going about their ordinary business before taking a right into Soho. This is probably the seediest part of London. The place is full of sex shops, appartments with open doors advertising 'models' and nameless throngs of tourists mixed up in all of this. I even spotted a courier service called, "My Sister is a Bike." It took me a moment to realise what this was all about.
Soho is perhaps the strangest part of London. There is a errie vibe and you can be sure there are things happening behind closed doors that it is difficult to imagine.
From there I went to China Town. There are lots of shop windows with ducks slowly getting cooked. The duck fat drips on meat products I cannot identify. I was reminded here of how within western culture, we have certain norms when to comes to food. One would rarely think of eating certain parts of an animal, such as a heart. This also reminds me to keep an open mind; try not to assume anything just because it is deemed 'normal.'
From there I went to Charing Cross before moving onto Covent Garden. I found myself a nice pub with an outdoor seating area. I bought a pint of ale that is not available back home. There were more tourists taking photographs of a theatre facade close by. Then I noticed a women actly strangely across the street from me. She kneeled down on her hunches before lighting a cigarette and puffing at it madly, looking over. She hardly took a breath between drags. I ignored her and she finally got up and walked away. I am not sure if this was my imagination or if she was looking for 'some business.' She just seemed too forward for it to be concidental. So having finished my pint, I got up and walked toward The Royal Mile before swinging left past The Houses of Parliament.
I walked across the Thames and took a left along the South Bank. This is my favourite part of London. There are many street performers and artists. Located here also is The Tate Modern, HMS Belfast, The Golden Hinde, The Globe Theatre, The British Film Institute, South Bank University and The London School of Economics. They even have an area for teenagers to skate board and spray-can the walls. I had another drink in a pub here before crossing the Thames again at Tower Bridge. I walked past The Tower of London, the place where Mary Queen of Scots was executed. (There is a family myth that we are related to The Stuarts through my maternal line!)
Making my way into the finacial district I found a pub named 'Addendum.' I texted my band mates to tell them of this strange coincidence. A pub named after our band! I even joked that if 'Addendum' ever make another CD, we would use the front of the pub as an album cover. A little like The Doors did for their album, 'Morrison Hotel.'
From there I walked through Algate and Algate East. This is where I lived for six weeks when I was in secondment in London. It brought back great memories. There were eight Scottish colleagues and eight colleagues from Belfast all living in a hotel together. We had a great time. Eating out every night, we got to know London and each other pretty well. This is when I fell in love with the place. There is just so much to do. You have access to great music and other art forms. It makes Belfast look like a village!
I got on the tube at Liverpool Street Station to catch the book reading. A great day joyfully wasted.