Friday, June 27, 2003

The walk from my place to work

This is still a source of amazement and some glee for me: I can walk to work from my new flat. Anyone who lives in London will be suitably wowed by this: in a city so sprawling and vast, which can take two hours to cross by public transport, living within walking distance of Leicester Square usually means one of two things: that you’re very rich, or you live in a slum. Well, I am now poorer than I’ve been in years, and rather than a slum, my flat is on an estate that’s like an urban, mid-sixties Barbary Lane.

Leave house (lock door and giant, burglar-friendly, easy-access window), turn right.
This takes me to Kennington Road, a wide, leafy route running between the river and South London. Pass streets with names like Walnut Tree Walk, and the world’s loveliest mansion block, redbrick with sash windows, wrought iron balconies and curved turrets. I sometimes see people (always girls, girls who look like they lead the life I want for myself: they’re well dressed in a Doris Day, ballet-pumps-and-swingy-skirts way, and they never have bad hair) going in and out of the building.

There’s a parade of shops here, none of them particularly noteworthy, apart from the typographically interesting Flipper Fish Bar. The typeface the owners used for the sign is such that it appears to be called Fupper Fish Bar, and every time I pass it with The Boy I nag him about taking me for a Fupper fish supper. I never get tired of this, but I think he may push me into traffic the next time I mention it.

Pass the Imperial War Museum, set in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. Pretty pretty pretty. The Imp, as no one ever calls it, has a high white dome, cannons parked outside the front steps, and looks like a scaled-down White House. It has some great exhibitions, like the 1940s house, and is free.

Now it’s decision-making time. Do I take a left straight away, going up Lambeth Road, under the Bridge of Pigeon Death, past Lambeth Palace and to the river? Or go further, past Perdoni’s diner/caff, the only eating establishment I have ever seen with pull-down seats in all the booths.* If I carry on down Kennington Road, I’ll get to Westminster Bridge Road, and the choking greyness of the roads to Waterloo station. The river walk takes me past the Dali exhibit, the London Eye, and the aquarium. In the morning it’s quiet, only employees and a few enthusiastic tourists, but walking back at 6pm you can hardly move.

If I take one of the new suspension bridges at Waterloo (what the hell are they called?) I come out at Charing Cross. These bridges give the best views – of parliament, St Paul’s, and the spooky white deco-ish building on the north bank. And then I am at work in about ten minutes after, sweating like a bastard.

*Really want to eat here, even though it would mean breaking my rule of never eating anywhere that can’t spell the menu right. If a place claims to serve potatoe gratin, how can you be sure of what you’ll get?

No comments: