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The London Destinations, 23 August 2014

September 3, 2014

Nelsons ColumnLondon. Teeming city of millions. Home to over thirty destinations mentioned in HMHB songs.   And it’s where we both have what D-list Paul Ross would call “our gaffs”.   Speaking of whom, can his recent woes be counted as another example of the curse of Half Man Half Biscuit?

Due to the burgeoning public interest in our endeavour, we’d long ago decided that the tour of London destinations would be a collective affair, with our many followers finally getting the opportunity to ride with their heroes. After a sustained publicity drive – Twitter, Facebook, posts on HMHB sites, endorsements from journalists and 6 Music DJs, and emails to everyone we know – we end up with a peloton of….me and Nick.

And so it is that the two of us find ourselvesMillwall Steve at Goldsmith’s College on a Saturday morning. The sun’s shining, and no-one’s coughing up blood – always a good start to a weekend. Goldsmith’s being the kind of place where it’s hard to avoid people saying “graphic design”, there’s no shortage of arty types milling around, two of whom are kind enough to take our photo (no doubt assuming that they’re participating in an avant-garde multi-media art project).

At Deptford market, the demographics change somewhat and we decide it best not to hand the camera to a third party. Pushing off down to Millwall FC – whose battles the Sealed Knot Society still hasn’t tried to recreate – we’re given short shrift by the steward we politely ask to take our photo (even though it’s hours to kick-off and she’s just standing around.)

Upon Westminster BridgeCrossing the river into the City, we arrive at the Barbican, on whose roof Sting is, happily, not singing. We then take Bloomsbury and its Ambassadors Hotel before heading north, bagging Camden Town and the Falcon (sadly now converted to flats) before leaving behind skinny indie kids in favour of Dead Sea bath salts and jog-proof I-pods. Appropriately, our Hampstead photo-op is outside a fishmonger’s where they display the catch of the day (no doubt ethically sourced) in hip lettering painted on the window. Bidding farewell to the Ken Hom acolytes, we turn back south.

Around Swiss Cottage, self-doubt descends upon us. Can Lords, where Fred Titmus had his test debut, and scene of many a cricketing farce, really not be on our list?   After some kerbside googling (which sounds like an offence under the 2009 Policing and Crime Act) we decide we’re fine to proceed without stopping for photos: the Lords where the clean streets of Chatteris were acknowledged is clearly the second chamber of Parliament, and not the home of the MCC – the Wripple Vetivers can’t touch us.

PlanetariumAnd so we cycle backwards at peak hour down the Edgware Road, making a detour to the old London Planetarium – now annexed by Madame Tussaud’s – noting that it does indeed look uncannily like Brian Moore’s head.  The next place she said we have to be is Notting Hill, where the cocaine is fair trade.   Our decision not to display a Buena Vista Social Club CD here has caused a few raised eyebrows. By way of explanation – we decided against it because featureless TV producers prefer downloads these days – it wasn’t at all because we forgot to buy one beforehand. Lunch stop is a gastropub in Ladbroke Grove, which would be a great place for an interview with the NME, and which lives up to all stereotypes (we have hake tempura surrounded by comedy sloans.)

Then it’s on to the Albert Hall, but there’s no timeMet Altercation to inspect their most famous exhibit because we have to clown by the Serpentine and cause an altercation at the Met Bar.  That done, we get some bemused tourists to take our pictures at Trafalgar Square, upon Westminster Bridge, and at the Embankment. By the time we’ve snapped at rakish heels at the Groucho, looked at the sign outside the Gielgud, and arrived at the Borderline, it’s well before ten past nine.

 

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One Comment
  1. Jonah Varc permalink

    Comrades, while it is true that I’ve never stopped whingeing about not being in your company on that legendary day when you were buying swarfega in Montgomery (allegedly), I would never cycle in that London myself, but hearty congratulations on your latest achievement.
    To tell the truth, whenever I now hear “that London” and “cycling”, I go back to that July day when Le Tour was there. Determined to wring every last ounce of merriment from the great day, I was in a group waving and cheering the buses and team cars that were speeding our heroes to Dover after the stage. Every wave from coach drivers and junior soigneurs was greeted with great joy and mounting fervour until the most cheerful and enthusiastic wave from a smiling figure sent us into a frenzy. Which is how, your honour, I came to be waving and smiling at Alexander Vinokourov….
    As punishment, I’m currently in training for the most feared ride in the UK- the Hell of the South Lizard, (which is Lizard Youth Hostel to the Lizard village) so I’ve just got time to tell you how pleased I am that your injury seems to have healed nicely and you haven’t gone all michaelowen on us,
    All the Best

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