A Day Up The Smoke (thinks – make that my savings).

Posted on July 21, 2011 by

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Treat yourself to a day out in London. Go on. You know you want to. Rail travel is dead cheap after 09.30. Oh yeah. That’ll be fifty squid squire. Blimey. Tsunami Shock Wave and we haven’t even left the ticket office. Still. Hitchin to King’s Cross is a brilliant service, the sun’s out and London looks lovely.

Caffeine time. Head for one of those cute little Italian jobbies with tables outside. As if. Not an illegal immigrant waiter to be seen. Inside is dark as the hobs of hell. Helloooo!! Anyone there? Any danger of er – COFFEE!? Answer came there none. Talk about the Marie Celeste.

Head for The Crypt Caff instead. St. Martin’s in the Fields.

The steps down sport a notice.

NO ENTRY

FIRE EXIT ONLY.

What you doing, says he as I descend, can’t you read?

Oh, say I, don’t bother about that. I always go in this way.

Not with me you don’t, says he, the entrance is around the corner.

Very correct is he. Law abiding. Me. Rules are there to be bent. Chundering under my breath I trot behind like an Asian wife tut tutting his timidity. Blah blah blah blah.

The reason for the notice is revealed. A whacking great edifice spoiling the whole Crypt experience has gone up all Perspex and chrome and see through lifts. To get to it visitors are forced to pass THE BUY ME BUY ME EMPORIUM. Now there’s a surprise. The bit in the bible where Jesus hurls capitalists out of church springs to mind and why, may one ask, are Christians selling pre-Christian, Pagan stuff? Stuff like The Green Man, all leaves, sprouting branches and vines heavy with flowers and fruit. Very fecund. Stuff like Unicorn plaques. Are not unicorns symbolic of, well, never mind. Not that it bothers me. I am the Mother of the Chapel shop steward of Pagans but still, it is odd. (NB to me. Make a DON’T NEED IT, DON’T WANT IT, DON’T BUY IT badge to wear in shops like this).

Now. Lunch. We enter the Crypt. Lo and behold! Hordes, ignoring the NO ENTRY sign, are popping down the quick way. Himself and myself exchange glances. Mine accompanied by a raised eyebrow and told you so face.

Passing up on Dish of The Day – a mouse size portion of dried up chicken – presented for the delectation and delight of the fit to bust laughing chefs hiding behind the green door we queue to pay for £12 sarnies. Now here’s a funny thing. Why do managers train new staff with no English how to use the till and the credit card machine in lunch time rush hour? My, by now gasping for, cup of caffeine is going cold. Press that pull that and don’t forget to on and on and on. Still. We’re better off than the bloke in front who fell for the Dish of the Day. He could have bunged that in a sarnie no sweat. Still. The sarnies were excellent. All proceeds go to the church charities for the under privileged. We pass them on the way out. Some look more like refugees from Fagin’s Den, dead shifty.

Onwards and upwards. First stop. National Portrait Gallery (they’ve stopped the free guides, now £1 for a map) to see the photography exhibition I’ve been looking forward to. It had rave reviews. Had being the operative word. Finished yesterday. We’ve got the catalogue says the sales assistant in THE BUY ME BUY ME EMPORIUM. It’s only a thousand squid. BTW. Cake and a cuppa in the NPG caff is £12. Over to the National Gallery (no free guides here either, £1 for a map). Realise as we leave we forgot why we went in. Leonardo da Vinci. Next. SatNav to Belgo in Covent Garden (draw a veil over that £50 debacle) then a romantic stroll along the Thames to The Houses of Parliament. Not. The stench from the romantic barges of ordure is overpowering.

I ask himself to take photographs of the statues of Oliver Cromwell and Richard I even though why they’re here is a bit of a mystery. OK, Cromwell revamped parliament but he was a traitor who murdered his King. As for Richard. He was a Frenchman who loathed England. He milked it dry to pay for the abortive Crusade he went on with his lover, Philip of France and for his ransom when he was stupid enough to get himself taken prisoner wandering through enemy territory.

Pockets now a lot lighter we pass up on the Millennium Wheel and head for home. What an eye opener. 8.30 and the trains still full. Full. Standing Room Only Full. Full of – I’d forgotten the horrors of commuting – I’m on the train yummy mummies ordering Christian to pick her up – blokes in shorts and trainers coughing and sneezing and snotting telling us and god know who on the phone he picked up a bug ages ago and can’t shake it off –thanks.

Never mind. For all that London is still special. As the good doctor said when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford. Afford being the operative word.

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