and so, after something of a longer break from it than i intended, look you see, back to tales of adventure and excitement from my recent visit to London. further, dear reader, we reconvene with the story that many of you were most looking forward to - the tale of travels with Spiros. yes, i know that's what it says on the title so you knew that, but an introduction is always a splendid thing.
if my motivation for returning to London was, as was the case last year, to meet some dear guests from America on a sort of "half way" basis, then an ambition was to spend as much time with Spiros as i could. this i achieved, somewhat, by taking some extra turns in travels. this allowed me to get something of a sense of his magnificent life, but in a way that didn't mean i had to live his life to do so as such. he's quite happy with his lot, i suppose, but i did not fancy entertaining his ideas of meeting gentlemen for short term yet mutually beneficial friendships much.
the above is indeed Spiros and i in his stomping ground, Canary Wharf. this would have been at around 9am on Friday of last week, which is to say the one before last.
my reason for heading to where Spiros does all that smart stuff, what with him being the greatest legal mind of his generation, was mostly to spend some quality time with him, but partially also to be able trace my way back later. even if i wasn't visiting our dear friends from America, right, if i had stayed with Spiros then my head probably would have exploded off of all that clever stuff what he does.
the journey to Canary Wharf? well, i had fun with Spiros, chatting and what have you, but if i were alone i would say it is the single most depressing thing, ever. surprisingly the oldest of the old tube trains are used on the line. they are uncomfortable and get very hot and muggy very quickly. everyone looks bored, depressed or isolated, and if that didn't get to you then the armed police at Westminster station (where you have to change lines) most certainly would.
yeah, that's later in the day, as you can see by the darker clouds. if you want to know what i did during the day whilst Spiros went off and legalled the arse of several things, you can check out most of it by clicking here and indeed here. and here.
what do i make of Canary Wharf? to be obvious, it really is soulless. there is, despite some bars and that (we shall get to them), absolutely no sense of existence, life, knowledge or feeling beyond that which can be measured and calculated in pure fiscal terms. and yet, weirdly, that's not exactly a criticism.
the only reason Canary Wharf exists is to make money. it was designed and built to attract money, and to progressively make more. it cares not for anything which is not coins of money. and, in truth, it works quite well for all concerned. that is, it does if left alone in splendid isolation. the quasi-Narnia like state of the place is so cut off from the rest of the world that it's little wonder things like that whole Brexit thing took it by some surprise. just as it cannot understand anything beyond money, the place cannot understand how people in places that are not Canary Wharf think of anything other than money.
and yet there's the usual token effort to make a purely corporate environment sense something that is almost human. in corporate terms, social = alcohol and this alone, and so there are a smattering of bars, flanked somewhat by caravans selling various duck dishes to consume.
Spiros and i, as you might well gather from the above picture, enjoyed a couple of pints in one such bar. a rather splendid Amstel was on tap, served by a happy go lucky Polish gent. also i had a smart chicken and bacon bagel, prepared by someone whose nationality escapes me for the moment.
some video of the social side of Canary Wharf? sure. regular readers will, of course, have previously seen a clip of some gentleman angling for a fight in the Wharf, but there is no such shenanigans in this footage.
if the soundtrack can be heard but not determined in the above clip, that's Absolute Beginners off of Derek Bowie you can hear playing. there was some "cheap to licence" selected 80s music on the go the whole time, which meant that Spiros and i got to hear a good deal more Fine Young Cannibals than would normally be the case on a friday.
time to go wandering, then. and i note that blogger has, despite my smart numbering system for the pictures, uploaded them all from this point onwards in a different order than i had intended. never mind, we shall stick with the random nature of it.
that's me having a gander around Canary Wharf. i was stood having a cigarette whilst Spiros quickly ducked into some boardroom or something to kick the arse off of a legal matter. what legal matter? doesn't matter, really. Spiros does tend to just pop into random meetings in random buildings on an ad hoc basis. it is seldom, if ever, the case that the meeting and conclusion isn't the so much better for it.
i had a look around, then, and said no. my mate Spiros, who is always looking out for me, suggests that i consider taking up a position back in the world of finance. should i approach the Wharf with my talents and track records, i could probably realistically earn some five to ten times as much as i do now. the trick, ladies and gentlemen, is that i would be far removed from being as happy as i am now. i love what i do, and so shall do it. when everything is worth money, money is worth nothing. being who you like and doing what you want isn't something you can add a value to.
after a couple of pints, then, and a bagel and listening to some music from the 80s that didn't have some clever royalties licensing signed up for it, we headed off. ostensibly this was in the direction of House of Spiros, but we decided to take the scenic route. well, when i say "scenic", i mean we elected to hop off at the London Bridge stop of the tube to have a wander around.
the above is indeed the boat off of Sir Francis Drake. well, no, not the actual boat off of Sir Francis Drake. it's a quite smart reconstruction of it. there was a tour, of sorts, going on whilst i took this picture, but more of that later on.
of the many things which one can do at London Bridge, and some of them we shall get to in more detail, one which was of interest to me was to visit the Globe. well, the reconstructed Globe, as per the boat above. i can remember in the 80s when Sam Wanamaker and Robert De Niro started the funding for it. they were so dedicated that De Niro, who had otherwise refused to do so, all of a sudden started giving interviews, so as to promote the ambitious plan and gain funding.
that is a most smart sign that they have there. evidently the way they present A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Globe is far more interesting, exciting, exotic and sexy than the way it was when we did it at college and that. perhaps the director of this production clocked something i, and certainly my teachers, did not and they have loads of smart nudies in it.
two of the best other things down by London Bridge are the Borough Market and a pub. the market is amazing, man. dozens, if not a hundred or so, food and drink stalls, all with samples. a smart fella need never actually buy himself a meal if he can get to that market. you could wander around, pick up a sample of all sorts of bread, cheese, sausage, meat and what have you as you go and be left feeling most stuffed in the stomach area.
the pub was amazing, man. most vibrant, and more interesting and lifelike than the affairs they have at Canary Wharf. we only went in for a quick pint, right. in those five or ten minutes, though, we saw some smart stuff. one point of interest was seeing a gentleman, some 10 to 15 years older than us, escorting - very firmly around the waist - a young lady who was some 15 to 20 years younger than us out of the pub. he had quite the grin to him as he did this, so yeah, he was probably quite the proud father or grandfather or something.
the other thing which happened was that we were approached by two Brazilian ladies, who sat with us and had a drink. no, not that sort of Brazilian, i mean as in actual off of Brazil people. i took the above selfie of me and Spiros as they took one of themselves, and i think they inadvertently saw that as a cue that we wished to engage them in conversation and what have you. should they have been chaps off of Brazil i dare say Spiros would have had some interest in passing, but alas no they weren't. all the same, maybe we now have that Zika virus, whatever it is.
back, briefly, then to The Globe. can you go in and around it when there isn't a performance? yes you can. can you do this for free? ostensibly no, as i believe the fee for a tour is £20 or so. the exit to the tour is, however, quite easily accessible, and so you can just walk in and have a gander gratis.
well, you can walk in through the exit free and have a gander gratis right up until the point an absolutely massive black man in a security suit comes up to you, asks you just what the f*** you think you are playing at and requests, in most staunch terms, that you leave. still, i managed to get this picture, and yes i believe the gentleman who believes a uniform bypasses social skills is pictured in it.
phew, this is taking some writing, this. i did warn those of you who are looking forward to some Spiros action that this would all be quite the opus, and something that probably requires some sort of legal vetting before it gets published. i shall probably skip that but.
we were, as it were, at London Bridge. a bridge would normally signify a body of water, and so yes, here you go, here's Spiros and i stood by the Thames.
did Spiros and i get up to anything not depicted here by pictures as a point of reference? most decidedly. we quaffed a few ales, watched some quality cinema like They Live and The Big Lebowski, visited certain cornershop establishments and even offered, although it was declined, to help a lady who was in some distress, what with her crying down the phone whilst clutching a hastily put together bag of items and being in the company of a number of children of inherently different patriarchal origin.
but, back to the boat off of Sir Francis Drake that is not actually the boat, but still.
one can indeed take a tour of this boat. Spiros advised me that it costs £6 to do so, and further that you have to walk exceptionally, indeed unnaturally, slow in order to make that tour last to the extent that it would endure £1 per minute.
that sounds like a rip-off, then. here's the rub. if the people who do all this magnificent restoration and recreation work cannot secure funding, then they do not exist. it's a difficult situation to be in, then, when you very much want to support and give patronage to endeavours such as this, but also don't want to feel like you are being fleeced by it.
another look at the Thames river, in particular without me being in it but that smart monorail thing which Canary Wharf has on the go in action? sure.
the Thames really is that dirty old river that Ray Davies so famously sang of. and,. indeed, so did Derek Bowie in a smart cover version (Reality special edition, i think). it's filthy, dirty and quite smelly. also, it's soaked in a history of the modern civilised world like so little else is.
after some busy times with Spiros after a very busy day around London in general, it was time to return to House of Spiros. that meant a return to the tube, and here we are on the platform of the tube station.
which tube station? don't remember. it might be London Bridge, or this could be when we changed lines at Westminster. doesn't really matter i suppose; this selfie was only taken in order to capture the dude with the awesome afro in the background.
alas, no, my adventures did not take me to Tottenham Court Road tube station. i will go there once again, one day. last year it was closed for work, and this year i just did not have enough time. fans of a certain 1981 cinema classic will understand the reason and wish for this.
a selfie on the tube itself? sure, why not. i mean, why wouldn't you? well, that's a good question, actually, as not once did i see anyone else taking them. the tube is something of a social vacuum, it is.
whilst one sees all walks of life whilst riding the tube - in particular when, as was the case with me on that friday you spend four or so hours on it - what you seldom, if ever, see is any sort of social interaction. people just get on it and drift into their own world. it's all very much head down, read book, read paper, look at phone (despite no signal underground), etc. i think it was Bryan Ferry what sung "loneliness is a crowded room". look at how people blank the world and everything in it whilst on the tube and that makes sense.
there's been a bit of a downcast beat to some of this post, hasn't there? sorry, that was not my intention at all. i had, as usual and as ever, an absolutely boss time with Spiros. it would have been amiss, however, for me not to have commented on my surroundings, or if you like environment.
yes, still, despite the short nature of my travels there are indeed a few more things to post from the place. i think i might slam them all together in one sort of "mega" post soon, but for now, you people wanted a day with Spiros, you people kind of sort of got a day with Spiros. the business ends, so to speak.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!