Off to London, where the streets are paved with gold – apparently. Well according to Dick Whittington they are, and no-one argues with Dick right?
It’s a sunny Sunday and it’s my birthday, so my wife Clare, number two son Elliott, and I jumped the train to ‘that London’ as we say up North.
Having based most of my personal philosophy on James Bond (hey, works for me!), Clare bought us tickets to see the ‘Bond in Motion’ exhibition at the London Film Museum. This has all the original cars, and a lot of props, storyboards, etc. from the Bond films and promised to be a great day for a hardened Bond fan such as myself.
The train journey from Stockport was enjoyable with Elliott and myself passing the time playing air hockey (Elliott won) and chess (I thrashed him) on my tablet.
Once in London we decided to walk the short distance from Euston to Covent Garden so we could soak up a bit of the city and enjoy the sunny weather. Walking down the streets I am struck by many things. The history round every corner, the wealth (compared to the north, where even the rats have got second jobs) and all the tourists. We passed several theatres, the Drury Lane, Shaftesbury, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) where many great actors such as Peter O’Toole and John Thaw started out. And probably even more not so great, bitter actors, who ended up teaching drama at local comprehensives and shouting at their televisions whenever their classmates come on.
Covent Garden was bustling and beautiful with street performers entertaining the crowds with tightrope walking, juggling and even opera. My favourite quote was from one performer, encouraging the crowd to put more money in his hat, “remember, the more you give, the more I get”. Fascinating and stimulating place. This is the only market I’ve ever been to where Chanel has a stall.
We avoided buying any tourist tat, craft tat or expensive designer tat and navigated our way to the museum.
The Bond exhibition lived up to its promise with all the iconic cars and much more, presented beautifully, but it was a bit short and over and done within 45 minutes. The London Museum of Film was actually just the Bond Exhibition which was a bit disappointing, considering the rich history of filmmaking in this country.
Back into the blazing sunshine we wandered down to the river and across Wellington Bridge to the Southbank. In the distance we could see the new crop of skyscapers lifting the London skyline ever higher, dwarfing the history and reminding more of Singapore that England.
Finding the National Film Theatre, the entrance from the embankment seemed to be through a restaurant, so we stopped for bite to eat before exploring deeper. My pulled pork burger (that sounds a bit rude doesn’t it – or is it just me?) was lovely, though the gherkin was so sour it did make my eyes swivel round in my head and invert my face for a minute or two.
Finally we descended down into the London underground and squeezed onto the tube back to Euston, just in time to catch our train home.
There’s so much to do in ‘that London’ that it can be quite exhausting to try and pack it all in, but I think the trick for us is to pick one thing and focus on that. Luckily the Bond exhibition was good but short enough to allow us a bit a wander.
Look out London, we’ll be back.