Friday, March 04, 2005

Arguably not the most reliable or sanest of London tour guides ...

St George's Circus
St George's Circus; as yet unproven occult centre of London

Tracy's Brother and his girlfriend are over next week from New Zealand.

They never been to London before

Oooooooh exciting.

They're spending a few days with us and I had generously offered to work out a tour itinerary for their stay and to act as a guide. Tracy refused the offer point blank. She turned me down on the basis that she was concerned that her brother would spend a few days with me then go home with a warped and twisted view of London.

And there was me, already having gone to all the trouble of listing out the 'must see' places in town - Wood Green, Finsbury Park, the Holloway Road, East Ham, Lewisham, Stockwell; all that planning wasted.

It's long been a fantasy of mine to take a group of visitors around London and completely spoof them with bogus information. The challenge being to find credible alternatives for key London landmarks and remain completely convincing throughout. Sadly, this dream has yet to be realised and I usually have to content myself with less ambitious pleasures; pouring pints of superstrong lager and vicious chicken jalfrezis down the necks of unsuspecting visiting Italian relatives and their famously limp digestive systems, that sort of thing.

I think this all dates back to a school trip to Rome when I was about fourteen. On one particular day, and for some unknown reason, the teacher leading our group was totally hacked-off with the whole deal. He spent the entire day taking us around the city and solidly lying to us about what we were seeing throughout. 'That's the Trevi Fountain built by Harry Trevi in 1926. On Tuesdays the locals fill it with milk', 'This is the Parthenon (actually the Pantheon). Famous for being the place where the first Toblerones were made back in AD420'
, 'These are the Spanish steps, so named because they were made and imported from Germany. The Pope walks his ceremonial labradors up and down here three times every morning'. And so on. Whilst not of consistent high quality, the bullshit was sustained and entirely unscripted. At the end of the day the teacher handed us over to a colleague, got drunk and refused to speak to us any more. He was, and many ways still is, my hero.

Anyway, onto Plan B for our visitors next week. Under strict supervision from Tracy, in a controlled environment, I came up with five rough, themed itineraries:
  1. Southbank walk from Lambeth Palace to Butlers Wharf (probably the best and most feature-packed city walk on Earth, if you’re a tourist that is)
  2. Westminster / Buck House / Hyde Park
  3. West End - Oxford Street / Soho / Leicester Square / Covent Garden / Trafalgar Square
  4. Primrose Hill / Regents Park / Camden
  5. St Pauls / Tower of London / Leadenhall Market / Brick Lane / Petticoat Lane
Yawn. We'll barely scratch Lambeth and Hackney hardly gets a look in. And as for Woolwich, forget it.

The only concession Tracy is planning is to allow me to point out the occult symbolism behind the shape, height and alignment of various structures that we see. That's not going to sustain me for very long. Maybe I'll be able to sneak some bullshit in when she's not looking …

Top occult/ esoteric features of London landmarks that I've already mentioned elsewhere in the past include …
  • Big Ben is 316ft high - the same width as the outer circle at Stone Henge
  • Nelson's Column and The Monument are both 202ft high and are actually sundials
  • St Pauls Cathedral is 365ft high, a replica of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and aligned 8 degrees off East-West so that it points to Temple Church
  • The occult centre of London is in St George's Circus, Lambeth (OK, I haven’t got round to proving that one conclusively yet).
Come to think of it, I haven't worked on my thesis about the hidden geometry of London for ages. Maybe I'll spend part of the weekend doing some research i.e. drinking scotch and staring at aerial photos of London until I hallucinate. It's a lot of fun I can tell you.


Northun Munki in Oxford Circus said...

I like your idea,

let's get some garish T-shirts and a sandwich board printed up with "Real London Tours" and hang out round tourist hot spots carrying unfeasibly large umbrellas. Surely we'll get some takers and show them the real city and British culture - get them pissed and curried up along the way, it's a potential cash maker too!!!

Stef said...

Mmmm, I shall ponder

I doubt if it will be a goer though as we'd lose several people from each group along the way. The liability insurance would be a killer.

Off the top of my head I can think of few nationalities other than the British who can deal with 6-8 pints of lager and a b*stard curry in the course of an evening followed by a fight . Americans, Italians, Frenchies, none of them. A vegetable biryani and a couple of medium blondes and that's their lot.

That's why they fear us so.

jester said...

I'll see your 'lager' and raise you a a 5 alram chilli and a fifth of good ol' American bourbon whisky any day. Wanna play hardball? Then we'll thrown in a little moonshine too.....Fear you? We don't fear a bunch of pantywaists that handed over their guns to the socialist state and their country to foreigners without a whimper!!

Stef said...

That's fair, I deserved that ...

Generalisations can do that to a man.

I have nothing but the deepest respect for Habanero chilli peppers and the heroes who consume them for fun and recreation. The Indian restaurants of London hold no fears for such people ...

Northun Munki in Oxford Circus said...

Hang on, not too sure on the exact dimensions but one mile East of St. Georges Circus - isn't that Bermondsey Square (site of the former Abbey), there's also the Church of St Mary Magdalen...

Stef said...


Coincidentally, I was round Bermondsey Square (it's not all that square is it?) the other day but didn't twig that it might fit in with my little obsession in the making

Sadly, I've just had a computer crash and have to reinstall all my mapping programmes so I can't check the exact dimensions but I think you might have something there

Right, I'm off to Bermondsey with my GPS and a staff of power ASAP

Thanks for that