33 3 mins 13 yrs

LUNCH today in the Smoke with an old friend, and what a glorious day we chose. Since it felt like summer and were in no rush we had a stroll that went on a little longer and further than planned.

Now my days in London are as few and short as I can make them, not being too keen on my home town nowadays, but today was different. Let me tell you why.

Today was different not only because of the weather, but also because the London Marathon took place. No, I don’t have a thing for runners, but I do have a thing for a civilised living, and the reason why civilised living came to town today was because the Marathon meant road closures. Look again above – there I was, in Whitehall, strolling with thousands of others in the sun where daily buses and taxis and cars, lorries and vans are backed up.

So a stroll that was meant to go from Piccadily to St James carried on, across the Mall near the finishing line, through Horseguards Parade (resembling a field hospital after 26 miles on a warm day for the runners) through Victoria Embankment Gardens, up to Covent Garden and back again to St James where I ate and drank my way through the afternoon.

The point is, dear reader, London was transformed by a few, simple, well thought out road closures today. The place is hard work, just one reason why I normally travel in with a feeling of doom. And it’s hard work in part because of the traffic. But today, without the traffic, the noise, the screeching brakes, the necessary jostling at traffic lights to get across the road, without also needing 360-degree vision to avoid being clipped by white van man cutting the corner, without all of these hastles – London was a proper pleasure even with a million extras around.

Rome bans traffic from the entire centre each Sunday and like London today it’s transformed because of it. It feels like a different city because it is a different city. It becomes incomparably more civilised than otherwise.

More please, particularly when I’m there.

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

33 thoughts on “City Slow

  1. That’s why I live in the City Pete. It is peaceful, beautiful, green, full of Spring (check my flickr account) and loaded with wonderful history. Sundays are for peaceful pub drinking and strolls down to St Pauls or around the Square Mile, its gardens, utterly devoid of people and precious few cars. And this in the centre of one of the world’s greatest cities. The West End has had two traffic free days in the last year. More are planned.

    I’m amazed you of all people champions less cars though!?

  2. Alison –

    Well, it’s a Sunday afterall and I’m up for civilised living one day a week. Business can take care of itself the rest of the time.

    Rome has long shut down the entire city centre to all traffic on Sundays. London came nowhere near that. Just enough main roads were clear to allow the Marathon to carry on, but still it was transformed totally.

    The London manic walking pace became a slow, meandering stroll as if I was on holiday. When I’m in town, if someone cuts me up on a pavement, I usually have to fight to retain my sanity. Today, I drifted aside, no problem. We laid out in Victoria Embankment Gardens for a while, Hungerford Bridge was up, the London Eye over the river and the Marathon going on a few yards away and it was glorious.

    Blimey, all the tourists about will be going home thinking London’s always a stunner. And for that alone it’s worth it.

  3. Rome has a major problem with flocks of starlings though – ugh! Seriously bad problem. I do like Rome though. I love anywhere with history.

    I’d be happy to see the tourists just go home frankly, though I am glad they will take away a nice memory. Italian tourists are unbelievably ignorant and rude though, especially on London buses and tubes.

    But back to London. The City is like that every weekend. When you are next in town at a weekend, drop me a line and we can go for a City drink and a stroll. And Aileen too…she’s a history fan and Sundays are great for that.

  4. On a Sunday in London, I strolled down the mall, past St James Park, which is utterly beautiful, thru the Admirality Arch, to the Square. I stopped to admire the statue of Charles I, and on to the National Portrait Gallery. The were handing out flyers at St Martin’s for a string ensemble of Vivalldi’s "Four Seasons" for that night. Yes, I has to come back and bought a ticket. (Tis a pity Alison you were still in France!) I hope heaven is as beautiful as that day!

  5. Re the tourists Alison, i had taken your suggestion to cross the Millenium and go down the quay to the "secret" gate and down to the Thames bank at low tide. Sitting on the step with my feet on the beach, and dreaming of discovering the next Sutton Hoo, a big tourist boat came by. People were waving to me as if I were a native! I waved back and chuckled, that is until the boat’s wake made shore and I had to scramble up the steps!

  6. It gets muddy down there! Glad you had a lovely few days. Sorry I wasn’t around to help you dig out some Georgian clay pipes!

  7. Seimi (steady on) –

    Normally I would have been in N5 watching the glorious Gunners, but my mate’s son is 12 today and Arsenal mad so I handed over my two seats so they could go to the game.

    Sperz blowing a 2-0 lead in fantastic fashion makes for a top weekend allround!

    Charles –

    Funnily enough I had a chat today with a couple from Plano. They were having a great time on Pall Mall going nowhere fast, staring at statues and all the rest. They had no idea the Marathon was going on and it all added to the fun for them.

  8. I have to say I too was gobsmacked reading that post , considering that Pete has almost without fail always championed the freedom to drive and railed against any State interference with that freedom whatsoever. The early hot sun must have gone to our Pete’s head…. or he’s just getting old.

  9. Pete

    Great post.

    Me and her are headed to London on Friday for the weekend. We will do a fair bit of walking and I’m hoping to get to the Bridge for the west London derby (Chelsea v Fulham for the uninitiated) while she goes shopping.

    It’s been a few years since we were in London and we are really looking forward to it.

  10. Rome has long shut down the entire city centre to all traffic on Sundays.

    How they manage that? Using the States monopoly on violence? The violence of the law? Be careful where that sort of thinking leads Pete. Next you will be telling us there are ‘greater goods’ to such things.

  11. Alison

    Lets take Pete round the Tower of London, I’d imagine he’d have an interesting take on it ;o)

    Sunday traffic restrictions gets my vote

  12. Colm –

    From my prone position on the grass Hungerford Bridge was up, i.e. between me and the sky.

    Aileen –

    You’re on.

  13. Colm, it’s Arsenal and Holland national player Robin Van Persie, He was/is under investigation for alleged rape of a Dutch beauty queen (some believed his close tackling was also rather suspect).

    Now don’t ask me what that’s got to do with "west Belfast ira child molesters" or Seamus’s sexual preferences.

  14. Seamus described RVP as robin the rapist. Irish nationalists see no problem with crimes like rape and murder. To Noel and seamus it is a laugh. I will never tolerate scum
    like them. Thank the lord I’m not a Fenian with morals like those two.

  15. Pete. Leaving cunninghams statement "is under investigation" suggests your love of Arsenal isn’t great. You cut my post and leave that up. Maybe your Irish roots are coming to the fore and you care more for seamus than you do for our dutch wizard?

  16. I’m not sure what you’re trying to do and I hold no brief for the individual concerend but this is not likely to have a positive conclusion.

  17. I didn’t cut any post. Now let’s all calm down.

    Robin van Persie was arrested and investigated in Holland on an accusation of rape. He was released without charge or stain on his reputation. The accusation was without credibility.

    That matter’s settled.

  18. So cunningham can suggest that RVP may still be a rapist and you leave it up on here? Who needs spurs fans when you are around!

  19. Seimi –

    Noel Cunningham didn’t make any accusation against RVP, he simply wasn’t aware the case was dropped. Be cool. You don’t have to jump on everything. A short reply can explain things.

  20. Siemi is a Belfast Provo. I’m an NW1 Protestant Arsenal man. Only cunningham admit he made a mistake. He is the type who supports martin mcguiness so probably loves talking shit.

  21. Pete Moore,

    If we start talking about ‘reputational stains’ particularly in the context of burglary with a friendly weapon next thing, I feel sure, there’ll be mention of…blue dresses and vinaigrette….

  22. Noel maybe a paedophile,

    The last Noel heard of this was when the matter was still under investigation. But actually even then he did not believe the accusation for a moment. He was merely explaining the acronym to Colm.

    >>To Noel and seamus it is a laugh. I will never tolerate scum
    like them. Thank the lord I’m not a Fenian with morals like those two.<<

    Well, let’s agree on that last bit at least.

    Now, back have to to bringing the neighbour’s kids to bed……..

  23. Pete, it a stunningly small world. I live a mile from Plano. That’s where my fav Pub is. I wonder if they were native Texans or Yankee transplants. What did ya think of their accents? 😉

  24. ‘Seimi (steady on) –

    Normally I would have been in N5 watching the glorious Gunners, but my mate’s son is 12 today and Arsenal mad so I handed over my two seats so they could go to the game.’

    ‘Seimi –

    Noel Cunningham didn’t make any accusation against RVP, he simply wasn’t aware the case was dropped. Be cool. You don’t have to jump on everything. A short reply can explain things.’

    ‘Siemi is a Belfast Provo. I’m an NW1 Protestant Arsenal man. Only cunningham admit he made a mistake. He is the type who supports martin mcguiness so probably loves talking shit.’

    Pete, can I just clarify something? I have only just read this thread, and have made absolutely NO comments on it until now. Looking at it now, it seems that comments have been removed by someone, but I can assure you, if ANY comments have been posted using my name, it wasn’t me, and I strongly resent the fact that somebody is impersonating me to make some sort of point. Can someone email me the comments that were made, and can someone please find out who used my name? Thank you.

    As regards your giving up of your tickets – a very gracious gesture indeed. I hope the birthday boy enjoyed Cesc’s 2 goals.

    Noel may be a rapist – you, sir, are an idiot.

  25. Seimi –

    Yes, I finally figured that out after our NW1 friend said the same thing. If he picked a name and stuck with it I wouldn’t have got things arse about tit in the first place.

    Now you, like others who seem unable to get things in proportion, can calm down.

  26. ‘Now you, like others who seem unable to get things in proportion, can calm down.’ – Me? What did I do?

Comments are closed.