London Weekend

I belong to a web site for sophisticated twenty-first-century gentlemen such as myself, on which members organise events of all kinds. On Saturday night I ventured to the bright lights and tourist traps of dear old London town to attend one of these shindigs, attended by about 400 like-minded gentlemen and about eight ladies. Officially and hideously christened a mega party, it was of course just another excuse for alcohol and dancing but on a large scale and into the early hours.

I’d booked a hotel room on the assumption that there’d be no trains by the time we were all kicked out. After checking in and putting my face on I had some time to kill so it was off to Regent Street to investigate the Apple Store. It was packed, mainly with tourists checking their email.

After checking my email, I headed all the way back down Regent Street and up Shaftesbury Avenue, past the hyoooge (and very clever, I think) theatre poster of Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, to the pre-party pub: The Duke of Wellington in Soho, previously unvisited by my good self.

I was there for a pre-event event, to meet a few people (strangers!) from the site before heading to the party. On arrival there were no obvious groups and the bar staff didn’t know anything about it; I asked one possible group but it wasn’t them. Someone I know from Cambridge turned up, but it was just a coincidence – he wasn’t attending the event. I texted the organiser just as a face I recognised from the site appeared, so problem solved. (The organiser texted me back about an hour later, as I stood next to him. He was suitably embarrassed when I told him thanks, but I’d already found them.)

Not long afterwards we left for the party, wandering through the streets to find the correct bus (a member of the group was in a wheelchair). Buses as well as tubes take Oyster cards (of which I approve), which makes getting on amazingly efficient.

There was a queue at the party venue, The Goose on Leather Lane. All tickets were booked in advance, and as we arrived the organisers issued stickers with our site username and “real” name (some people use humorous/”humorous”/weird “real” names), which was a nice touch.

I knew nobody. Well, I say nobody; I was now acquainted with the group I’d arrived with, and before long Andrew and Stuart turned up. Andrew’s a bit of a celeb on the site, everybody knows him; but not everybody knows that his name is actually Andrew, since his profile uses a different name – to them he’s always Reese. Stuart and I went along with it, because it was funnier that way.

Anyhow, there was beer, and some more beer, and some chatting with random folk and not-so-random folk, and some vodka, and some dancing, and some more vodka, and some memory loss…

On Sunday I wandered around various parts of “our nation’s capital” (© Americans) accompanied by my personal tour guide David, one of the not-so-random folk and a London resident who knows his London from his London. We went along the South Bank from London Bridge, past The Clink (the old prison and source of the colloquialism) and The Globe, across the wobbly bridge to a sit down in St Paul’s, then scooted across to the Palace (she wasn’t in, probably had her feet up over at Windsor) and St James’ Park (where idiots were annoying the pelicans), through Horse Guards (coincidentally changing as we arrived, scattering tourists through the medium of horse), up Whitehall past Downing Street (I remember when anyone could walk up it, now it’s a fortress), past the Palace of Westminster and the peace protestor Brian Haw (whose continued presence has so annoyed the freedom-loving Dear Leader that legislation was passed to try to get rid of him), and across Westminster Bridge to the London Eye (we didn’t go for a ride). I should have taken my camera with me really to be extra-specially touristy.

Then I tubed back to King’s Cross and the train home, amazed that my legs weren’t shouting at me.

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