Sunday, 18 October 2009

A night on the City

The following happened last night on a brief nightwalk around London - a moonwalk without the moon. Here's a little retelling. It's a mixture of Twitter updates, notes from the night, images and narrative.


@Waxingmoonman Off to this stunning event tonight:

Saturday night, middle of October, and the chill has set in. After my previous attempt at attending a charity event with my good friend Dan (who nearly died with me for moonwalk no. 9) ended in navigational disaster, I set off early. It’s 4:45pm. This time I’m determined to attend, be on time, enjoy and not get lost. And it nearly all goes to plan.

Skies are heavy with cloud. Somewhere around me there’s a new moon – but of course I can’t see it.

The announcer at Loughton’s Tube station must be having a laugh – or a beer. “’Allo, ladies and gents there on the platform. Just a little message to fill you in. All’s lookin' good on the Central Line, smoove all the way today. Please 'op on the train now. Cheers.” He brings a big smile to my frosty face.

Posters promoting the full moon fill all the spare space on the Underground:

cirque du freak – vampire’s assistant. full moon. darren shan. went to same uni as the writer.

Right, this time I can’t get lost. This close-up A-to-Z of London’s streets will save me. Big letters, bright colours, little pictures of toilets and banks and gardens. You’d have to be an idiot to get lost with this. Or be a bit rubbish at reading giant maps.

I reach Holborn, on the dot.

@Waxingmoonman The one time I arrive on time for a bash and the bash is late. Going for a walk around London. Night creeping in.

London is covered in Squares. In fact, reading a map of London often feels like looking at a noughts and crosses grid. Crescents meet crossroads which meet T-junctions which lead to main roads and one-ways which often end in gardens and Squares. Russell Square, Tavistock Square, Gordon Square, the perfectly elliptical and therefore oddly-named Bedford Square, and back to Old Gloucester Street for tonight’s main event - that'll do for a quick and square nightwalk.

This amazingly complex street system makes a London nightwalk an exciting experience. Providing you look up to take it all in. Which is exactly what the furious American lady obviously didn’t do when she crossed Bedford Way into a car.

@Waxingmoonman Have instantly stumbled upon swanky hotel central. And HUGE argument between a learner driver and an American ball of anger.

"You were going to hit me."

I half-expect the angry American, now standing in front of the learner car, to then bellow, "I did not slurp my orange juice", such is her delivery. But she doesn’t; she just stands and screams abuse about the driver not looking. I piece together what happened from the lady’s assault on the learner driver, his instructor, and a black cab driver who now has his nose installed in the rear of the learner’s car.

A pleasant New Yorker left her house for a nightwalk around the Squares of London. Upon crossing Bedford Place, home to London’s hotels, she was targeted by a villain driving a learner car, pretending to be a novice driver. His accomplice, acting as his instructor, snarled at the woman as she crossed into the road. The men increased their speed and charged. She screamed. They cackled. "We’re going to hit her," they shouted, like mad drivers trying to maim a pedestrian. Then, somehow, a black cab crashed into the back of the pretend learner’s car and the lady escaped. She felt peeved.
Bloomsbury Square is rather open and boring, except for the mysterious chained-off tunnel that leads underneath it. So I head on - leaving the argument to rage - towards the thundering traffic of Russell Square. And this one I can enter. Though with the light fading, this is perhaps a bad move.

@Waxingmoonman A man who gets lost in London, gets lost in life.

@ClassicalReview Or gets beaten up. (in reply to @Waxingmoonman)

london - chopper, anger, languages, car lights, bikes, cold, smell cold n perfume n car fumes.

Just before I reach Birkbeck College and find myself suffocated by talk of the fiscal system and Pi, the most strangely positioned park bench in London appears before me. I soon spot how it arrived here.

To be continued...


~Cheryl said...

"to be continued" ?? you rat! :)

Rob Self-Pierson said...

Haha - always like to leave my reader wanting more/the book. Promise to post part 2 in the next couple of days.