Lucky Col
Dance as though nobody's watching, love like it's never going to hurt

Saturday, October 03, 2009


It’s been a while since I’ve been to Central London, May last year, and I certainly don’t miss the place. The traffic, the ignorant people, the smell, the indeterminate grease that seems to penetrate every pore, the clog of black lumps up your nose as if you’re deep mining Satan’s personal coal bunker. London is certainly not paved with gold.

But a promise to an 8 year old is a promise that needs to be kept, so at stupid o’clock on Friday morning off we went to the depths of hell.

Like any good socialist we travelled First Class, making sure of the free tea & biscuits all delivered direct to our seats.

St Pancras has gone through a few changes since I used to go on a regular basis as a kid, the main one being that the end of the platform is now somewhere near Luton. When they built the Eurostar terminal, they should have had the foresight to build in an extension to the tube network, or at least some of those moving floors seen in the best airports (and Prague). But I’m guessing that that would take you away from the impulse purchases in the top end stores surrounding the walkway.

A helpful ticket guard for the tube asked my 8 year old whether he was a good boy, good enough to earn free tube travel for the day; “No” was the less than helpful reply. He got it anyway.

I always feel a bit strange walking down to St Pancras / Kings Cross tube station. On 18 November 1987 I’d gone to St Pancras to buy tickets for a trip back to Nottingham while out Christmas shopping. I missed the fire by a good four or five hours, but still too close for comfort. I can still see the tube tunnels how they used to be in my minds eye, my Titanic dream if you will. Even the new design which has largely destroyed the old layout can’t take away the view from the top of the stairs which hasn’t changed a bit.

Straight to Westminster and straight to item number one on the things my eight year old wanted to look at, Big Ben, which disappointingly wasn’t that big to him. Ah well, Downing Street will pick him up, the home of the Prime Minister, off the tele and all that. Well, no, that didn’t go down too well either. But then it wouldn’t. It’s like going to Alton Towers and being stopped at the entrance only being able to see the entrance to the House of Fun. At least it was warm.

Round the Houses of Parliament, across Lambeth Bridge and back down the side of the Thames, not a short walk for an 8 year old’s legs. Not a short walk for a 40 year old’s either !! Fortunately I’ve trained him well enough not to even consider asking for a trip to Buckingham Palace. I was tempted for a look round, after all I do F***ING OWN PART OF IT !!!

The London Eye was number 2 on his list and this time he wasn’t disappointed. A clearly annoyed temp took my bag off me to x-ray but made no effort to look at the resulting see-through image of my change of underwear. Security isn’t exactly number one on their list of priorities, although trying to keep all the Germans together in one pod was.

Disappointingly for me I wasn’t able to see Nottingham from the London Eye, what with the owners of the London Eye getting their knickers in a twist back in February that by calling the Nottingham Eye the “Nottingham Eye” would seemingly confuse Southerners into thinking that two ferris wheels situated some 130 miles apart were actually one and the same. Just shows you what a thick bunch southerners really are.

Off the itinerary a touch as we took in the Movieum, the London museum of movies. See what they did ? This was actually not bad, and worth an hour of your time if you’re next to the London Eye. Building enthusiasts will also like the setting, the old County Hall. Beautiful. Although I’m guessing that if they haven’t already set up an injunction on the Notts County Hall next to the river ‘Trent’, there’s one in the post.

I haven’t been to the Natural History Museum in over 30 years, but it looked like some of the exhibits hadn’t moved in all that time. Think Wollaton Hall with more dinosaurs and you’re on the right track. The animatronic T-Rex was believably scary, somehow managing to catch the eye of anyone looking at it as if it were just checking you out for snacking purposes.

A quick pint beckoned in the, no, sod ‘em. A quick pint WOULD have beckoned in the pub I would quite happily have spent a tenner in had they decided that having an 8 year old sat outside on one of their precious tables for half an hour wasn’t somehow going to get the whole of the free western world arrested for high treason. Needless to say I won’t be going back there on my next journey south. If you’re in the St Pancras / Kings Cross / Euston area I would recommend the Doric Arch, the Bree Louise (definitely), the Euston Flyer (at a push) but as a must, the Lamb on Lamb’s Conduit Street. And not the *********************. The main reason I’m so bitter about this is we ended up back at the hotel drinking, and forgive me lord, f***ing San Miguel out of bottles. Yeuch.

Dinner was found, eventually, at a nice Italian on Southampton Row. You can’t beat a nice family owned Italian restaurant, certainly better than Pizza Hut s***e or f***ing Frankie & Benny’s which is as about Italian as my a**e, but less tasty.

Up early on the Saturday, the usual drawing of the Forest tree in the steamed up bathroom mirror, before the all you can eat continental breakfast. I may be a clever bloke, but working one of those push button coffee machines was clearly too difficult and the resultant brown sludge tasted only slightly better than my first all white attempt.

Back to museum country and a trip to the science museum. Slightly more interesting than the Natural History museum, which still includes the poo you can’t flush. Must have got that idea from my house after a heavy night on the Guinness.

My boy wanted to go to Hamleys, so off we went. Even he thought the prices were offensive, so opted to spend his souvenir money on the bus / taxi / figure combo offered by the reputable barrows on Oxford Street.

And then back on the train home. Walked for miles, saw loads, spent loads, but it was all worth it.

He thanked me on the way home and told me he didn’t want to go to London again any time soon.

He wants to go to Paris next year instead !!!



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