Robert Hampton

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18th June 2013

London Wander Round
Posted by at 9.56pm | 1 response | Out and About, Stage

So what else did I get up to in London? Well…


PastoralI always like to see a play when I’m down in London. This time round I eschewed singing Mormons and naked Italian men in favour of an altogether more sedate affair, Pastoral at the Soho Theatre.

This was a strange story of nature gone mad, following a group of friends who are stranded in their flat when some catastrophe causes plants to grow exponentially and animals to turn feral, destroying anything man-made in their path and leaving people fighting for their lives.

It’s a dark comedy; sometimes very dark – it’s not every day you see the killing and eating of an Ocado delivery man played for laughs – but overall it was an interesting idea, with great performances from the cast and some brilliant special effects (not easy in a small theatre on a tight budget). It was something a little different, and I enjoyed it immensely.

World Naked Bike Ride

Man observing WNBRThis annual event took place in London on the Saturday afternoon. It’s a protest against the dominance of motor vehicles on our streets and the resultant noise and pollution. I suspect it’s also an excuse for nudists to whip their clothes off and ride down Regent Street.

No, before you ask, I did not take part. But I had met up with my friend Ian that day and… well, we were in the area, so we thought we’d watch as the riders made their way across Waterloo Bridge.

A hefty crowd had gathered by the time the cyclists rode past. I took a few pictures (and as you can see by the picture to the right, I wasn’t the only one) but most of them came out hopelessly blurred. Also, I think my web hosting provider might get a little bit peeved if I start putting pictures of naked people on my blog. Fortunately several highbrow newspapers like The Independent did full reports on the event, so I’ll refer you to them.

Anyway, well done to those brave enough to strip off for a good cause. I just hope they remembered to apply suncream. And that the people on Boris Bikes wiped the seat after use.


RoutemasterAfter my ride on the Emirates Air Line (documented previously), it was time to try a much more agreeable form of transport. I hopped on a DLR to Tower Gateway and walked round the corner to the bus stop at Tower Hill where, I was assured, I could get a ride on a London icon. No, not Pauline Quirke – I refer of course to the heritage Routemasters which ply their trade on route 15. These classic London buses plied their trade on the capital’s streets for almost half a century, until their advancing age and lack of wheelchair access forced their retirement. However, TfL, sensitive to the vehicle’s iconic status, retained a few vehicles for use on two routes through central London. This was a smart move, as they are recognised the world over – if a Hollywood film wants an establishing shot of London, 99% of the time it will be a Routemaster driving past the Houses of Parliament.

Routemaster top deckI happily made my way upstairs and took a seat on the top deck, pretending to be a Cockney on my way to buy some jellied eels and sing Knees Up Mother Brown. It’s fun to be on a bus that makes tourists in the street turn, point and take photographs. I even waved to a few of them, ruining their shots completely (ha!).

The only non-authentic note comes from the engine – in order to meet emissions standards the buses have all had new engines fitted, so they sound exactly like a modern bus. Booo…

It was great to finally get a ride. I’ve been to London so many times but have never managed to squeeze in a trip on one of these buses. They truly are an icon of London. Having said that, navigating my way down the narrow staircase reminded me that modern buses are generally better, and sometimes sentiment has to give way to practical considerations.

We certainly don’t need ugly, expensive vehicles like the “Borismaster”, which is about to be inflicted on the streets of London. Every time I see that bus it reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Homer is allowed to design a car – “Some things are so snazzy they never go out of style! Like tail fins… And bubble domes… And shag carpeting…” – I can imagine Boris sitting in his office, drawing up a similar list for his bus.

So that was London… again! It was a fun trip, but I honestly think I’m all London’d out for a little while. I’ve been down there three times in the past four months. I need to find a new destination for my next weekend away, I think.

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One Response
  1. Comment by Mark Johson
    19th June 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Sorry to hear that you don’t like the Borismaster. Its certainly hasn’t got the neat lines of the original ‘fifty year old’ designed diesel guzzling machine, but time moves on, and London needed a modern day “Greener” replacement, thus Thomas Heatherwick/Wrightbus have obliged with the NBFL, which I personally love to bits. Why? becuse it melds the old with the new, the seat colour and the interior colour scheme is strictly old school, (as is the rear platform)! Then we have bang up to date wheel chair access, LED lights, two staircases, Climate control, and best of all ‘A Hybrid propulsion system’ which is second to none in the world of double decker buses.

    Take a few rides on her, and she (NBFL) may grow on you 🙂