Day 175: Achievement 86. Go ice skating at Somerset House.

Tickets to skate

Tickets for ice skating.  Photographed in summer. (Above.)

Nat is one of the most awesome people I know.  She used to come to a pub quiz I ran in central London but, for some reason, decided she’d move to Australia for a couple of years.  And then she came back and came ice skating with me.

As is a lady’s prerogative, Nat showed up to Victoria about 20 minutes late.  She’d got the coach up from some city with a cathedral and ended up stuck in a traffic jam all the way into central London.  Undeterred that we’d miss the start of the skating session, Nat bounds over to a sushi stall (the one by the toilets, Victoria station fans) and proceeds to select from a variety of raw fish.  She’s one of the most awesome people I know, though, so can get away with wasting valuable ice time in this manner.

To the Misery (nee District) line!  Except, it being a weekend, there’s some sort of added complication.  On this particular Saturday in January, there was no service east of Embankment.  So, like all good BTO fans would, we took what we could get from the tube and legged it down the Victoria Embankment on foot.  Except we didn’t leg it, because Nat was eating sushi (the rammed Misery Train was not conducive to lunching) and I was carrying Nat’s mentally heavy bag.  But Nat can get away with wasting valuable ice time in this manner, and no doubt causing my back a later mischief, because she’s one of the most awesome people I know.

Once we finally get up inside Somerset House, Nat decides she needs to find the toilet.  I go and pick up the tickets and drop her mentally heavy bag in the cloakroom.  Then I wait.  And wait.  And walk around the ice rink.  And wait.  And wonder where the hell she’s got to.  Turns out there was a queue.  I’m told, from a good number of sources, this always happens at ladies’ toilets.  What I don’t understand is why, then, they don’t put more toilets in ladies’ toilets.  I don’t want to be accused of standing and sniping on the sidelines, so I’ll even offer a suggestion about how to do it: take some floorspace from the gents! As a double bonus, I have a gut feeling that forcing men closer to the toilet bowl would also serve to bring about more sanitary conditions.

I digress.  Nat, being one of the most awesome people I know, has got feet like a normal person.  She knows her size and the acts of picking flippers at the swimming pool, choosing bowling shoes at the alley, and ordering ice skates at the rink are straightforward affairs.  Not so for me.  Three different pairs of skates later, and a few tibial tendon-related yelps of discomfort, I’m sort of sorted.  Sorted, that is, for the half second between standing up and falling over again.  Great start, made even better by the sniggering of a six year old.

My last time at an ice rink (this one, in fact) had involved drinking mulled wine and taking photos, then visiting the India Club for a curry.  It didn’t, for reasons that might already be apparent to you, involve wearing blades under my feet and careering around on a hard, yet slippy, surface.

So, we get out on the ice.  And, I can tell you now, it’s not a sport for those who feel the need to be emasculated.  Not only will an entire Spanish school party shoot past you as if they are direct descendants of Jayne Torvill (there’s your T&D reference, should you be playing cliche bingo), but so will the elderly and the infirm, the very young and those with a white stick and a dog.  Depending on the time of day, the dog might or might not be wearing a high visibility tabard.

Clinging to the side for dear life, and using the handrail as a method of propulsion, is a technique fraught with problems.  I’d go so far as to say that, between them, lollygaggers and children ensure it’s not a way the uncoordinated young professional is permitted to travel.  Forced on to the ice, straight lines are the thing to conquer first.  Well, not falling over, then starting to move, then moving in a straight line.  After that, it’s time to master stopping.  Then stopping using something other than the rink-perimeter rapid deceleration technique.  Then going around corners.  Then putting it all together.  Then avoiding people.  Then falling arse first on the ice.

Set up for a fall

Me, mid-fall.  Nat really captures the moment.

Great fun, though.  See you there next year.  More pictures on flickr.

(Note to readers: I do actually like Nat.  She’s one of the most awesome people I know.)

Day 170: Achievement 57. See a film at the IMAX cinema.

The BFI IMAX has Europe’s largest cinema screen and it’s right there, bang smack in the middle of a large roundabout on Waterloo Road. Access is by a network of subterranean walkways, each painstakingly, and quite possibly post-modernly, decorated with an assortment of fairy lights and bold paintings. But nothing can detract from the sheer amount of brutal concrete on display.

Tron: Legacy 3D

A cinema ticket (above).

So, we’ve got the location. Let’s set up the anthropological elements to this tale. Claire and I were in the early stages of courtship and a Monday afternoon trip to the cinema seemed like a good thing to do. I’d had the day off, Claire had spent the morning in Kent. (This isn’t relevant, really, I’m just trying to pad this out so there’s some sort of length-based justification for it popping up in my Twitter and Facebook feeds.) So, we rock up, pick up the tickets, and hit the cafe for a couple of soft drinks. They were really quite expensive but, not wanting to appear a tight arse (and ruin my chances of a snog), dutifully swallowed hard and paid up. And then drank every little bit of that Coke. Very slowly. Savouring every last drop.

And up to the auditorium. Bloody hell. That screen is big. Good job our seats are quite far ba… oh, no, they’re not.  If you’ve never had twelve metres of cinema screen on a wall almost directly in front of you, it’s something you should try. Once. Briefly. And remember to not do again. Especially if it’s a 3D film. Which ‘Tron: Legacy 3D’ most certainly is.  Well, certain scenes are.  Others are just plain old 2D.  In the IMAX, in fact, it’s a 70mm 1.78:1 blow-up p&s of 1080p HDCAM SR. Meaning you’d probably get better picture quality by watching it on a BluRay at home.

Anyway, it was my first time in an IMAX in about 20 years and also my first ever time of seeing a modern 3D flick.   Neither convinced me; the IMAX screen is simply too big for a feature film, the cutting between 2D and 3D did my head in and the 3D effect was, at best, a novelty.  In reality, it was nauseating and headache-inducing.  And the 3D glasses just served to remind me that my ears are a bit lop-sided.

Anyway.  Enough of me.  Let’s end with Claire’s review the film: “Looks good – boring.”

Day 139: Achievement 85. Go see the darts at Alexandra Palace

Happy new year.  Hope you had a good Christmas.

A few things quickly struck me about going to see the darts at Alexandra Palace.  Firstly, it’s a lot smaller than you’d think.  Secondly, and incongruously, the dart board is a lot further away than you’d think.  Thankfully, a pair of giant projection screens flank the stage and provide a helpful clue about what on earth’s going on.  This is surprisingly useful; the alternative is seeing the back of fine, athletic, players throwing darts at a fuzzy round target.

Gaaaaame on!
Andree Welge at the oche in his match with Colin Lloyd

So, in summary: it’s £30 to watch a the evening’s darts on a big TV. And it didn’t even look to be HD. And there was no commentary from the legendary Sid Waddell.  And the beer was £3.40 a pint (but served at the table by enterprising keg-carriers).  Freebies included boards to write amusing and/or coded messages on and some amusing Ladbroke’s ear warmers. This was just as well, considering our night at the darts coincided with London’s worst cold snap for at least a year.

Prat with a sign
Proof. I really was there.

But, those major pitfalls aside, the atmosphere is excellent.  Excellent and boozy.  Even the attending ladies were going in hard with the grain.  Luckily for them, relieving themselves didn’t entail a half-mile walk and a long flight of stairs.  It did, and my thighs concur with my view here, for us chaps.

In terms of the action, we saw a first round surprise as Co Stompé went out to Peter Wright.  The crowd boo’d and jeered when Colin Lloyd (playing Andree Welge) thumped the board, mid-game, in frustration.  The noise picked up by the board’s microphones nearly blew the roof off the place; Nick’s top tip is to not be near the PA system next time Jaws steps up to the oche.  I could tell you more, but I’d merely be repeating what’s on the PDC Website.  Go have a look there if you’re massively bothered.  Which I suspect you’re not.  So you won’t click that link.  Which makes me wonder why I’ve put it in.

Oh, yes, and I managed to get on TV.  Sort of.

Can you see my sign?

Hopefully Sky TV won’t mind too much.

I aim to do more Things soon.  Sorry I’ve been hopeless lately.  (Not that you care; you’ve probably already skipped over this post in Google Reader or something.  What’s that?  Hmm.  Oh, OK.)

Day 137: Achievement 40. Make it to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Oh, I wondered how long it’d be.  Writing this, in late January, it seems I’ve cocked up the chronology of last year’s events.  If you’re one of the more avid readers here, you’ll have learned about our japes at the darts.  The aforementioned japes were on a Friday.  On the Wednesday just before, I paid a visit to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.  If you’re reading this at some point after (*oohs, scratches beard*) about mid-February, you’ll be wondering what I’m going on about.  And that’ll be because I’ve slyly changed the publishing date of this post so it appears in the right place.  But, if you’re reading this now, I probably haven’t done that yet.  Or perhaps I have and, in a fit of fakery fear, have forgotten to remove this paragraph.

So. Moving swiftly along… let’s experiment with drama!

SCENE 1: Hyde Park Corner station ticket office.

CLAIRE is leaning against a ticket machine with a bit of a face on.  NICK approaches from the up escalator.

N: “Hey, lady!”

C: “I’ve been robbed, Nick!”

NICK makes some deductions  Bag?  Obviously not, cos it was over her shoulder. Purse? Probably not, otherwise CLAIRE would be on the phone to the bank. iPod?  Nah, because CLAIRE still had her earphones in. iPhone? Unlikely, seeing as CLAIRE was in the process of texting someone to tell them she’d been robbed. Gloves? Hmmm, perhaps. Everybody needs a pair of gloves in winter, even the quick-fingered. Actually, they could probably make extra use of them (leaving no finger prints). CLAIRE is texting on an iPhone; NICK considers this not to be a pursuit for the be-gloved.

NICK decides there’s only one thing for it: a calm, rational, assured, masculine, response.


C: “I’ve been robbed, Nick!”

N: “Oh my.  Shit*.  No?  Er, are you ok?  What did they get?”

C: “My Oyster card!  Someone’s robbed my Oyster card!”

N: “Oh”, failing to keep up the initial worry and concern, “is that it?”

NICK doesn’t want to point out that it’s CLAIRE that’s been robbed of her Oyster card and that robbing an Oyster card would be something else entirely.

C: “Nick! I have been ROBBED!”

N: “Oh. Did they get anything else?”


N: “Well, these are austere ti..”


N: “Shall we go?”

NICK and CLAIRE exit the station via a staircase

[That’s enough drama.  Too much, actually. -Ed]

I’m pretty sure that Dante wrote Inferno as a clever, extended, metaphor for Winter Wonderland.

Nine Circles of Hell?  Let’s see what we can do:

  1. The German market, selling all manner of crazy continental trinkets;
  2. The German sausage stalls, selling all manner of unpleasant-looking sausages;
  3. The German bars, selling all manner of Bavarian beers;
  4. The German musical entertainment (i), comprising a man playing an electric piano with little more than enthusiasm alone;
  5. The German musical entertainment (ii), comprising the same man singing with little more than enthusiasm alone;

So, the German tortures take care of Upper Hell.  Those who remain resolutely self-indulgent (and nothing more) get off with nothing more than a casual Teutonic nightmare.  But what about those of us who have strayed into violent behaviour?  Ladies and gentlemen, Circles 6 and 7:

  1. The booming discotheque music from some of the fairground ride;
  2. Portable lavatories;

What about those of a malicious disposition?  Journalists, or people from Todmorden, for example.  Read on:

  1. Show-offs flaunting their skills on an elevated ice rink;
  2. Lots and lots and lots of children.

And, if you need more convincing, how about ‘Satan’?


Above: Satan

In short: abandon all hope, ye who enter here.  Unless you’re less of an all-round grumpy bastard than me.

And, just in case you’re wondering, Claire got her Oyster card sorted out in the end.  Thanks for caring.

(* Sorry, mum. I sometimes swear.)

Day 105: Achievement 67. See the Lord Mayor’s Show

As London is home of the world’s oldest civic procession, it would seem remiss to not see it at least once. So, the day after the election of the 683rd Lord Mayor of London, I went down there with my camera:

There’s not that much point in me banging on about what the Lord Mayor does and all this and that; there’s a great website ( with all that stuff on it.  It’s interesting reading, for sure.

A selection of my photos from the day are, of course, over on flickr.  Look out for the one of the Thames Fireworks that I managed to take through a star filter — it’s a corker.

Day 99: Achievement 91. Go see the banger racing at Wimbledon Stadium

I’ve wanted to go see the banger racing for as long as I can remember.  Well, technically, since Joff’s cancelled stag do.  (I should probably set the record straight at this point: it’s not that his good lady wife-to-be called the whole shebang off, but an inopportune moment of ill-health on Joff’s part.  The actual stag do involved everybody wearing antlers while driving dodgems in The Trocadero. Anyway, that’s quite enough about Joff.)  The point is this: since then, I’ve always wanted to go.

So, along with Katie, Ewan, Roz and Shorts, I rocked up on a Sunday evening.  The event at Wimbledon is run by the good people at Spedeworth.  For the princely sum of £13, we were able to enjoy ten races and a superb fifteen minute display by everybody’s good friends from Paine’s Fireworks.  “How can you be sure Paine’s Fireworks are everybody’s good friends?”, I hear you ask.  Well, the gentleman broadcasting to the stadium on the PA system (who looked uncannily like Sven Goran Eriksson) told us so.  About thirty times.  If an unlikely set of circumstances somehow required it, I like to think he’s the kind of guy I’d get to MC at a Bah Mitzvah.

The crew

nsj, Katie, Shorts, Rozzy

Those ten races, then.  We saw Stock Rods, we saw Historic Stock Cars and we saw the Bangers.  The stock rods are the closest thing to road cars.  Entry level, small engines, designed for those who wanted a foot in the door.  The historic stock cars step the pace up and introduce an element of contact, but the bangers races are where it’s at.  Full on smashes, pile-ups, roll-overs.  Just mayhem, really.  And top marks to the enterprising lads who turned up with estate cars.  The practical man deep inside everybody salutes you.



Top tips if you’re going: soft drinks are cheaper at the food bar than the bar bar; the food is crap, expensive and best avoided; it’s loud at the trackside – take earplugs; get there early to bag a parking spot.  We’ve vowed to go back.

Day 98: Achievement 16. Get the DLR down to the Museum of London Docklands

First up, an honest admission: I didn’t get the DLR to the museum.  Weekend engineering, you see.  If I had gone all circuitous on the transport front, I’d have been even later to meet Rowan, my companion for the afternoon.  After a false start, largely involving her being at Canary Wharf station and me being on the bridge outside the museum, we made it inside.

Museum of London Docklands

Museum of London Docklands, from the footbridge over West India Quay

The Museum of London Docklands is sister of the Museum of London, a place I’ve banged on about at length.  Like its sibling, the Museum of London Docklands is free to visit.  Be sure to pick up one of the rather good map booklets from the reception area before heading up to the third floor to start the tour.

If you’re more of an anthropologist than archaeologist (and I certainly am), you’ll quickly tire of the Tony Robinson videos and pictures of rocks and quickly move on to something more interesting.  In this case, it’ll be the London Sugar & Slavery gallery.  It’s a helpful reminder about what a bunch of bastards the English were.

London, sugar & slavery

Sugar & Slavery, Rakish Rowan

Things are a bit less grim downstairs.  There’s a rather spooky gallery called ‘Sailortown’, much like the Victorian village at the Museum of London.  It’s a replica of London’s docklands in the mid-19th century, replete with shops, alleyways and a hostelry.  There’s plenty of dark corners for adventurous youngsters to have a cheeky canoodle, too.  Not that either of us spotted (or condone) such activities, you understand.

Boat Yard gate

Aye aye, Sailor

A couple of galleries explore London’s docks at their peak.  ‘Warehouse of the World’ exhibits the types and quantities of the goods that came in and out of the city, as well as the development of bigger and better docking and storage facilities out to the east.  Enterprising and ruthless businessmen aren’t a 20th century innovation; there were plenty of takeovers, mergers and strange goings on.  Plenty of robberies, too.  And strikes, headed up by the enterprising Ernest Bevin – first head of the Transport and General Workers’ Union.



After an hour or two of walking about, we went off for a Pret.  Evidently tiring of my company, Rowan decided to head off – leaving me to learn all about the war and the area’s regeneration on my own.  The latter is particularly interesting and diverse; everything from the rise of Canada Square to the News International strikes.  Anyone who has a slight interest in marketing or advertising will relish the plethora of posters, pamphlets and general paraphernalia of the London Docklands Development Corporation.  It’s wonderfully early 90s.

I left by DLR, happy in the knowledge the Docklands museum is just as brilliant as its big sister.

Day 85. Achievement 22: visit the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace park

I’ve left you hanging for ages.  Sorry about that.  Have been a little but busy with work and also with a pub quiz I decided to take on.  It’s at the Tabard, next to Turnham Green station.  Wednesday, 8.30pm, with 2-for-1 on curries.

It was a very pleasant day on Sunday, so Man In Shorts and I decided we’d storm up Crystal Palace museum and park.  The visit to the museum was brief.  After hiking up a steep hill to get to its front, which my calves are yet to forgive me for, a locked door (and signs) suggested we went back into the park and used the actual entrance on the other side.

Having complied with the request, and nearly accidentally stumbling into a child-infested fun fair, you can probably imagine the utter delight when a sign on the actual entrance apologised for the museum being closed.  Dodgy central heating, apparently.  If only they had a website on which they could put such information, saving people an hour-long journey across London…

Crystal Palace museum


After a moment of quiet reflection on the museum’s steps, it was time for a gentlemanly saunter around the park.  I was able to point out anoraky things (like the purpose of the sloping wire hanging from the side of the transmitter mast*) and Man In Shorts was able to pretend to care.  Not that he did, you understand.

The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre provided an interesting diversion. On an Astroturf pitch, swathes of foreign gentlemen were engaging in some sort of ball game.  I’m no sports expert, but it seemed to be the same as football — with the crucial difference that handling the ball seemed to be permitted.  If any learned readers know what they might have been playing, do let me know.

Adjacent to the foot-and-handballers, a small racing track was populated by a couple of enterprising young chaps with radio controlled cars.  These were no Tomy efforts; they whipped around the track, engines going like agitated two-stroke garden strimmers.  And either the chaps were smashed or these things are difficult to control.  Motoring expert Man In Shorts couldn’t credit either driver with having a ‘consistent racing line’, nor with keeping the cars under control.  All I know is that the cars were noisy and weaved about the track a lot.  Maybe they were just warming up the tyres, like on F1.

Radio Control

Two stroke

Another diversion came courtesy of an ice cream van.  £1.50 for a 99, in London, in mid-October, was too much for me to resist.  Shorts was quick to note my wandering accent.  He says I got all ‘working man’ when talking to the ice cream man.  But I was the one with the ice cream, not him, so accepted both moral and actual victories.  In my head.

The ‘Dinosaur Park’ opened in 1854, some years before Origin of Species was published, and its theory of evolution shocked and outraged the simple Victorian folk.  Renowned scientist Richard Owen and sculptor Benjamin waterhouse Hawkins headed up team that took visitors on a journey through prehistoric time.



Bromley Council and the National Lottery have funded the restoration of the park and an Audio Trail.  At each of ten points around the dinosaurs, there’s a different bit of audio to listen to.  Shorts assures me it’s good fun.  It’s free to download at

Shorts with sound

Shorts enjoys the Audio Trail

Despite being able to see south-of-the-river from my window, it’s not a place I usually visit.  It’s probably thanks to the apocryphal tales of taxi drivers (…’south of the river? at this time of night? you’re having a giraffe…’) and also that there are very few reasons to actually go there.  Similarities with Leeds increase once you spot petty misbehaviour (some young chaps had jumped the fence and were gayly romping around with the dinosaurs) and the after-effects of a joy-ride.  Quite how one drives an Escort van into the middle of a wooden bridge, in the middle of a public park, is quite beyond me.  Considering the intense heat caused by a vehicle fire, I reckon the bridge is doing well to remain standing:

Burnt van

Ahh, south London.

More photos, as always, on Flickr.

(* it radiates Radio 4 on 720kHz and Spectrum 558kHz.)

Day 48: Thing 69. See a comedian at the Hammersmith Apollo

It was Dara’s 110th performance on this tour, the second date of a nine night run at the Hammersmith Apollo.  He was very, very, funny.  If you can’t make it to one of the remaining performances in London, or one of the provincial gigs, the last Apollo show will be recorded for DVD.  Details over on Dara’s website.

I’ve been to The Apollo once before.  It was, and I’m equally ashamed and amused to be writing this, a The Feeling gig.  The venue hasn’t changed much since.  Aside from the addition of stalls seating for the comedy crowd, it’s pretty much the same. The auditorium is still tatty, the toilets remain rank, the beer continues to command a ludicrous £4.10 a pint, the bars maintain a state of woeful incapacity.  But that can all be forgiven, simply for this: the seats are comfortable and even a lanky streak of piss (like me) gets enough leg-room.  And, as I said above, the man’s funny.

One of the highlights of the evening came courtesy of a lady sitting behind us:

A funny moment

A splendid night out.

Day 30: Achievement 75. Notting Hill Carnival

“Bollocks!”, I thought, waking up rather later than I’d planned.  It was Monday, you see, and the last possible opportunity for me to attend the Notting Hill Carnival in the Year of Things (as it shall now be known).  P, one of my learned colleagues, had been advising me about Carnival a few days before.

“If you’re going there on the Monday,” she said, probably nursing a latte, “get there early. Before about two o’clock, because the police sometimes start closing it off if it gets packed.”  She also helpfully suggested going up towards the big Sainsbury’s (where the 295 normally terminates, bus fact fans) where things are a bit more family orientated and less prone to getting tasty.  Simple logistics required us to cast this particular bit of information aside.  I say ‘us’, for this was a Thing to do with Man In Shorts.  He’s my muscle and, in this capacity, had recently accompanied me to darkest Dagenham to buy some second hand turntables.  In other capacities, he’s my housemate, an excellent drinking partner and a worthy addition to any pub quiz team.  He also makes the best Bolognese sauce you’ve yet to taste.

Those simple logistics, then.  We live south-west of Notting Hill, the Sainsbury’s is at the north-east end of it all.  There’s no buses running through the area and the Hammersmith & City line was somewhat constrained by station closures.  Add to this a complete lack of geographic knowledge surrounding W11 and the solution is clear: go to Westbourne Park and follow the crowds.  And, wow, were there a lot of crowds.  And a lot of policemen.  And lady policemen, too.

Having neglected to bring any beer with us, the first task was Operation Red Stripe.  Thankfully, the good people at the local Best One were operating a beer-selling operation of magnificent — almost military — efficiency.  A commissionaire granted access to small groups of people at a time.  Once inside, chest freezers and open-fronted fridges were filled with the promised bounty of tins: Heineken, Red Stripe, Kestrel, Red Stripe, Fosters, Red Stripe.  For the motorist, Old Jamaican and Rubicon were also available.  Three lads were constantly replenishing the stock.  Six similar lads, behind the tills, were taking hundreds of pounds a minute.

In and out in no time, cold booze in hand, and time to explore with our new-found props.  Wasn’t long until we happened upon a sound system:

First sound system

Loudspeaker geeks will be interested in the following:


Discuss the combing effect.

We then walked past a guy who was dancing to Frank Sinatra.  On the top of some bay windows. Two floors up:


On the way back down to Ladbroke Grove, a gentleman with a Flip camcorder stopped me and asked me for my thoughts on Carnival.  There was an incentive:

Horned tit

Continuing on, a rare chance to see some acoustic/unplugged/live entertainment:


And then we happened upon the Rampage sound system.  This was unique at Carnival, simply because it was the only think I’d heard of.  And that’s really only because my friend Ian (@iandeeley) works at the same radio station as them.  Anyway, it’s very much where the crowds were (and, if you’re getting bored with Ken Bruce or Woman’s Hour, Rampage are on 1Xtra at the same time):


After having a good old wander, we settled down on Ladbroke Grove to watch some floats go past.  Once you’re accustomed to the incredible outfits, dancing, and general bonhomie, take a look at the trucks themselves.  Most had a generator big enough for a large town, trailers replete with concert speaker systems of every shape, size, make and vintage.   Booming times.  Noise exposure limit for the day exceeded, time to head for the barbecue. The man-sized barbecue:

Man-sized BBQ

It was very tasty (as it should have been for £6). Just look at Shorts’ face of delight!

Jerk Chicken

A repeat trip to the Best One, and some portable toilets that would make Michael Eavis blush, and we were back in business.  The booze had clearly tripped a fuse somewhere because, once back on The Grove, I decided it’d be a good idea to dance.  Now, let me put this very plainly: dancing is not a way I like to travel.  It’s not a way I can travel.  A gentleman of my stature and co-ordination simply cannot be graceful in rhythmic motion, no matter how much Red Stripe has been imbibed to assist.  Good job nobody seemed to mind, even though I was blowing a plastic horn and undoubtedly stamping on toes, accompanied by a man who was trying to assail floats at every opportunity. If you woke up with tinnitus and a fractured metatarsal on Tuesday, it was quite possibly my fault.  Sorry.


Slipstreaming a float along the eponymous street brought us to Ladbroke Grove station, beneath the Westway  and railway bridges.  I then chose to remember a bit more of the conversation I’d had with P a week earlier.  She said something about avoiding that place because “that’s where it all kicks off”.  And, indeed, it seemed to feel a little bit edgy.  Whoops.  Time to beat a hasty retreat to Holland Park Avenue, working against the flow of both float and human traffic.  Needless to say, with Red Stripe and survival instinct operating in harmonious unison, it wasn’t long before Shorts and I parted company.  Helpfully, he phoned and woke me up just seconds my bus home had left the stop outside our flat.  Timing’s never been his strong point.  He did make me a super bacon sandwich for supper, though.