Lightning Indicator for London Drivers (1926)

I have a Reader’s Pass for the British Library, something I’m jolly proud of (see picture below).  Anyone can get one, you just have to navigate your way through the BL’s arcane rules & regulations and within an hour or so you have your pass.  I got mine for reasons to do with getting access to their Business & IP Centre, but thought it would be rude not to have a search through the archives for some Taxi trade related stuff.  And in amongst the database I found a few items that I’ll be boring you with over the next few weeks, possibly months if I find anything else. So brace yourselves, here we go…..

Today, my iPhone is invaluable to me when working, I get updates through Tweetalondoncab’s Cabup system, I can look up places & roads in Google Maps and when I’m really struggling out of town a bit, even get some directions from Messrs Google.  But back in the day, and this little gem of a book was published in 1926, cabbies (or other London Drivers) had to rely on the written word.  And the Lightning Indicator for London Drivers must have been a great help for cabbies back then, it’s 60 pages packed full of useful “points”, from Clubs & Restaurants to Hotels & Sports Grounds.  Due to BL rules, I’m not allowed to copy all of the book so I’ve extracted the bits that interested me most, the “Principal Hotels” & the introduction.  It must have been a nightmare to keep even such a small volume up to date, hence the offer of “a cheque for 2 guineas will be forwarded to the sender of the best suggestion for the improvement of the next edition”.  I wonder if anyone claimed that 2 guineas?

If you click on any of the photos above you’ll be able to read the pages yourself, you might even find them interesting.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find the list of Hotels fascinating, all the big names are there of course; Claridges, Savoy, Ritz etc.. but there are many others that appear to have made it intact through the intervening 75 years, more than I would have thought.  Bailey’s Hotel is there (wonder if it was stitched up by cabbies even back then?), the Bonnington, Imperial & Russell all in and around Russell Square still exist today, as does the newly refurbished Connaught.  Even what might be considered lesser know hotels like the Rembrant on Thurloe Place and the Rubens on Buckingham Palace Road are on the 1926 list and appear to have made it through to today with the same name & in the same location.  But perhaps more intriguing are the names that have disappeared since 1926.  The marvellously named British Empire Hotel could have been found in De Vere Gardens, the Hummmums in Covent Garden (next to what is now the Transport Museum).  And there are at least 3 Hotels that used to be in Euston Square that must have been demolished at the same time that the Square itself all but disappeared.  Also note how many Hotels are listed for Northumberland Ave (click the link for photo, with added Hansom Cab), when it was first built pretty much all the buildings were purpose built hotels, now only a couple remain that way.  But the most interesting name, I don’t know why it’s name stuck out, is Haxell’s which was on the Strand and was absorbed into the Strand Palace Hotel not that long after the Lightning Indicator was published.  After a quick bit of research I soon found that it was owned & managed by Edward Nelson Haxell, who become embroiled in a cross dressing scandal, which others have covered much better than I could.  There must be hundred’s, if not thousands of equally intruiging stories linked to these forgotten Hotel’s, I’m going to do my best to try and uncover a few more of them.  Or if you have any yourselves, please feel free to let me know.

"researching the world's knowledge" is the unreadable bit at the top...

Until You (I) Come Back To Me (You)….

……and start filling this blog with all sorts of stuff and nonsense. Like blog post titles that are references to 80’s songs I may have purchased in the dim & distant past.  But after being busy doing other stuff for most of this year, I’ve made a conscious decision to make time to start writing this blog again.  That means stopping my involvement with Tweetalondoncab and leaving it in the capable hands of others.  My intention is to write a lot more about the day to day happenings of driving a cab, along with all the bits & bobs I come across that fascinate me about the wonderful city that is London.  I’ll also be setting some regular quizzes and tests of obscure places around town, starting with an Xmas Quiz.  As friends and family get first look at my now regular Xmas Quiz, you’ll all have to wait until after Boxing Day, but look out for it being put up here soon after that, so you have something to fill the void between Xmas and New Year.  Meanwhile I’ll leave you with a picture taken just before the first lot of snow fell this year as I walked over  Tower Bridge, I posted the picture on Twitter (where you can now find me as @mrcudlip) and it seems I wasn’t the only one seeing London under a purple sky that early evening.

I’m pleased to be back blogging, I hope there are some of you left out there who want to read what I write.

their life in my day…

looks better than an a-z

As a cab driver well, as this cab driver anyway, you start off each day wondering quite what your day will have in store for you.  On particularly anxious days, you might wonder if there will be any work at all.  Perhaps London has suffered a 28 Days Later style exodus or that people have just suddenly stopped taking cabs altogether.  You might start your day with a few displacement activities, dressed up as essential pre-work tasks; fill up with diesel, have a large Americano from Cafe Nero, that kind of thing.  But at some point you have to point the cab in the direction of town and wonder at which point you will get that FJOTD (First Job Of The Day) and quite where the Taxi Gods are going to send you today. Will that first hand up be a flyer?  Or will it be Clapham Junction to West London Magistrates Court?  Luck plays a big part of course, but I am a great believer in Cabbie Karma and that if you do the little ‘uns, the good ones will eventually come your way.  And with all that in mind, I decided to fully record the jobs I did one day last week from FJOTD to LJOTD, to try and give myself (and indirectly you folks) a better understanding of the kind of flow you can get into and a little insight into the people that come into my life every day.  So on this particular day, having travelled in from deepest SW17 with no sign of a job (pretty typical these days) I was north of the river heading for Sloane Sq before;

  1. FJOTD – Lower Sloane Street to Seymour Walk, SW10 (1.7 miles).  Easy first job, no worry about route, just a quick check exactly where Seymour Walk is.  Then a slightly tricky reversing manoeuvre passed an Ocado van and I was back on Fulham Road heading east and not long before;
  2. Fulham Road (junction with Cranley Gardens) to Saatchi Gallery (1.5 miles, but only coz Kings Road was solid and I went Oakley Street and around the back) .  Man and his 2 sons were standing at a bus stop, so I had that moment when you aren’t sure if they are trying to stop you or the bus behind you, but in they got and off to the Saatchi Gallery for a bit of culture and lunch.
  3. Sloane Street to Kensington Church Street (2.3 miles via Harvey Nichols and a close encounter with 2 fire engines).  Nice Italian man wants to go to an antique shop but first must “rescue” his wife from Harvey Nichols.  Which all sounds easy enough, but when 2 fire engines suddenly appear on the scene, the already slow traffic at the north end of Sloane Street becomes stationary and rescue of wife is a little more tricky than than expected.  But eventually we find her and they are safely delivered to the north end of Kensington High St.  And before they get out a man in a rush appears at the window to go from….
  4. Kensington Church Street to Kensington Court (0.7 miles).  Now some of you may be asking why this gentleman would make such a short journey.  He was middle aged, seemed capable of walking his own way there if needs be and wasn’t a mentalist.  Turns out his office had a power cut and he was going to a mates office to send an urgent fax.  Fax??  Do people still send fax’s?  So a quick u-turn and a right out of Kensington Court and it’s nearly all the way down to Hyde Park Corner before the next hand goes up…
  5. Knightsbridge (west of the Mandarin Oriental) to Piccadilly (junction of St Jamess’ Street) (0.9 miles).  No idea why this gent needed my services, as he got out before his stated destination (Fortnum & Mason’s) and walked off towards Mayfair.  But if enough shorts jobs come along one after the other, who cares?
  6. Selfridges (Duke St rank) to Euston (1.6 miles).  So no joy in St Jamess’ or Mayfair before finally settling on the rank at the side of Selfridges that, if you can squeeze onto it (only room for 3 cabs), is always good for work during opening hours.  Didn’t have to wait too long until 2 ladies what lunch emerged needing to get to Euston.  What with their scouse accents and too tight facelifts it was quite difficult to understand where they were headed but after an initial furrowed brow from yours truly, Euston it was.
  7. Euston to Hallam Street (1.0 miles).  There’s a pattern emerging here isn’t there?  Only one job so far over 2 miles & that wasn’t exactly a roader.  But this man was late for a meeting, was extremely nice and gave a decent tip.  My patience was being tested, but not too badly.
  8. King’s Cross Station to Highbury Grove (3.1 miles).  Ooh, based on my previous jobs, heading to King’s Cross paid off.  A job over 3 miles and into double figures £ wise, things are looking up.
  9. Selfridges (Duke St rank) to South Quay Station, E14 (8.8 miles).  As I said, things were looking up.  No job between Highbury Grove and getting back to Selfridges, but I had stopped for a coffee and to stretch my legs.  And after a 10 minute wait at Selfridges 2 young Japanese ladies ask for South Quay.  Just about able to not spill my coffee all over myself in the excitement, I check that they mean South Quay on the Isle of Dogs, and off we go.
  10. Bank Street rank, E14 to West Hampstead (12.0 miles).  Now Canary Wharf is a funny place all in all, in general as well as for cabbies.  Once a goldmine (especially if you were on a radio circuit) the work that you get “on the wharf” (or “on the Island”) is a real mixed bag.  And generally a pretty cruddy kind of bag and many drivers won’t even bother stopping there and just head straight back to the City.  But, in my experience anyway, as the City isn’t a lot better these days, so I tend to stay on the Island even if it’s just to make use of the facilities and a have a break.  So I got on the rank at Bank St (when I tell you it’s opposite the old Leman Brothers building, you might get the irony of that) and patiently waited my turn.  Lot’s of people approached the rank with a variety of freight (luggage/bags) which almost certainly means a City Airport (alright job but wrong way) or if the “freight” is a Waitrose or M&S carrier bag they almost certainly are a “local” down the Westferry Road.  So on point, I have 2 people approaching the rank, one with “freight”, one without.  The chap without gets to me first and asks if I’d mind taking him to West Hampstead.  Luckily my coffee was long gone by this point as I may well have choked on it.  But my decision to stay put and not wait too much diesel looking for that next job paid off big time, and within an hour (and a visit to cashpoint) I was heading back towards town with a spring in my step.
  11. West Hampstead to Springfield Lane (1.2 miles).  Nice to see a hand go out so quickly after dropping someone off.  Not so good when after your punter says Springfield Lane Kilburn, you head off in completely the wrong direction, then manage to go speeding past the turning he is telling you to turn left into.  Still, he seemed happy enough.
  12. Maida Vale to Fellows Road, NW3 (2.2 miles).  Another short hop before another hand goes up, this time just down Maida Vale towards the junction with St John’s Wood Road.  Bit of a rude bugger, clearly running very late for something or other, but it’s only a short journey to the Chalk Farm end of Fellows Road, and I’m off again hunting for a job, hoping to keep my good run going.
  13. Chalk Farm Road to Praed Street (4.1 miles).  And my good run did keep going.  Couple that had clearly had a long day shopping (and arguing) desperate to take the weight off their feet and get back to their hotel in Paddington.  So from a slow start my day was getting better & better.
  14. Paddington Station to Crowne Plaza Shoreditch (5.4 miles).  Bit of a queue of cabs on the bridge at Paddington, but all seemed to be moving so I joined the back and was soon picking up a couple of Japanese businessmen going to Shoreditch.  Nice job, easy route down Marylebone /Euston Road etc.. and over “the hump” to Shoreditch High Street.  A continuation of what is turning into a really great run of jobs.
  15. Liverpool Street Station to Crowne Plaza Shoreditch (0.7 miles).  What are the chances of that, eh?  Straight back to the Crowne Plaza and back to the local jobs.  But I’d seen a man on the other side of Shoreditch High Street be ignored by all the cabs heading south & he was still there when I’d dropped off.  So I turned round for him and off we went again…..
  16. Shoreditch High Street to Southgate Road (1.7 miles).  Nice chap and slightly narked by all the cabs that had ignored him before I turned up.  But no wait between jobs is fine by me and it made the previous job seem a bit better.  By now it’s about 8:30pm and we are heading for the quiet time between 9 & 10 and I get all the way back to Mayfair with no sign of a job.  So I had to the new discovery (for Tweeting cabbies anyway) of the rank at Quaglino’s.
  17. Quaglino’s to Goring Hotel (1.2 miles).  Not a great job, but didn’t have to wait to long and then completely transformed by events at the other end of the journey.
  18. LJOTD – Goring Hotel to Hilton Heathrow (T4) (16.1 miles).  Not normally a place I ever pick up The Goring unless, like on this occasion, you have a group of people milling about looking for cabs and the doorman getting himself in a right state trying to sort them out.  A cab in front is filling up and then 3 men come to me with one getting in the back.  “Heathrow OK driver?” in a thick German accent.  “No problem” of couse, but then another man is at the window asking how much it will be, will I do a FP so that he can pay for his colleague up front?  Quickly deciding that this will be a great LJOTD and wanting to make sure I don’t lose the job I agree a price of £50 and the man duly pays up front and get’s a couple of blank receipts for his trouble.

And so ended my day, a day that can truly be described as a day of two halves.  The early, daytime, local jobs gradually building up into better and better jobs and finishing in grandstand style with a flyer.  Job done.

sunday jaunt……

we didn't, honest....

Perhaps I’ve got them well trained, more hopefully the Capital family have genuinely taken on board my enthusiasm for the fine details of this city.  But either way, when looking for a Sunday trip out we shun the bright lights of the West End and head off to mooch about the back streets of SE1 instead.

Finally starting to leave my butterboy status behind (coming up to 4 years a cabby in April), and in no small measure thanks to @tweetalondoncab and the drivers I’ve met through it, I’m a bit more savvy about the inner workings of the cab trade these days.  It also means I spend more time drinking tea and chatting at cabby watering holes like Great Suffolk Street (basically a big prefab hut in an old petrol station car park), which finally leads me to the location & subject of this post.  Tucked away in the sprawl of streets between Southwark Street & Elephant & Castle you find a strange mixture of stuff.  A bloody great crown court for one, the marvellously named & useful cabby cut through Union Street is another.  But we came out specially to have a look down Copperfield Street, a narrow little affair that doesn’t really take you anywhere useful, apart from the excellent sign pictured above, which is stuck to the back of The Borough Welsh Congregational Chapel, whose entrance you’ll find just round the corner on Southwark Bridge Road.

we didn't, honest...

So what exactly is in Copperfield Street to justify a trip of it’s own.  Truth be told, not much, but what is there, is truly charming and just that little bit other worldy.  Cute little houses, cobbled streets, it’s just, er, nice.  And then if you explore a bit more around the area you can find the Welsh Chapel (and it’s slightly stern sign) the GEC gates (that now lead to a car park) and some bits of polystyrene sticking out of a wall.  What else would you want to do with a few spare hours on a Sunday?

ascent of St Paul’s

this is work?Without getting involved in some sort of self flagellation about my blogging break, I am slightly annoyed at how easily I slipped into a “it doesn’t matter if I don’t update” and “I haven’t got anything of interest to say” because, as I’m sure many of you would be eager to point out, that didn’t stop me in the past.  And I as proved to myself on Thursday, even when hung over & not wishing to engage the brain too hard, you can wander outside your front door and find something to talk about.  So having started on such a local level, let’s go to the other extreme and tell you about my favourite London building.  THE London building, one that whenever I drive past or go near says something to me about my city that is very difficult to put into words.  But with the help of a few photos (some taken by The Cabbette) and some muddled together text, I’m at least going to have a stab at summing up this magnificent building.  Having visited St Paul’s during the summer with The Cabbette and having the specific intention of dragging her to the top, as I had done when she was about 3, it took until last week when I was parked on the rank outside St Paul’s looking at the view you see in the photo at the start of this post, that I finally decided to revisit that, er, visit.

train viewAnd the only way to travel up to town for a visit like this is the train.  The overground from Tooting goes a slightly long way round (you head off east for a while before finally heading north after Herne Hill) but the upside of that roundthehousesness and the train line’s predilection for being at first floor level, is that you get some interesting views into people’s gardens along the way.  Unfortunately the tools that the Cabbette & I had at our disposal seemed incapable of recording these St Paulsfrom traininteresting views and I’m left showing you a dull photo of some houses and an out of focus view of St Paul’s itself.  But both these images have something about them, they aren’t good photos that’s for sure, but they hint at how that journey is for me.  Little glimpses into other people’s lives as you speed/crawl (delete as appropriate) past suburban London until after Elephant & Castle you get into the city properly and then, just around a corner, is St Paul’s.  It might be viewed through a grimy train window but it’s still unmistakable and still magnificent.  I’ve spoken about this area before, in what was one of my first ever blog posts, so won’t dwell on it too much.  But if you do get off the train at Blackfriars, there is much to admire between there & St Paul’s itself.  I suggest walking east along the river path and taking in the delights of White Lion Hill and the concrete jungle that lies on the north side of it.

totem poleThrough the walkways & alleys you can then come across what must be the only totem pole in the City of London.  Apparently it represents the seven ages of man, but that is about all I’ve been able to find out about it.  From there you cross Queen Victoria Street (QVS) with the Piccolo Snack Bar almost opposite you, Mellon Bank building to your left and what is now the HQ for Scientology on the right.  Further up QVS you’ll also find the Samaritans HQ and you’ll often see Samaritans from all over the world hanging around the building waiting to be indoctrinated waiting to learn the latest Samaritan good news.  Perhaps it’s St Paul’s itself that is pulling in these religious nutters and they feel somehow more validated by being in the shadow of the place.  Really, why would they want to be based there?  Anyhow, I’ll park my anti-religious bias for a few moments so that we can take a left opposite the Millenium (aka Wibbly-Wobbly) Bridge and take the short walk up Peter’s Hill (please, can I have a hill named after me? Richard’s Hill has a nice ring to it I think) to St Paul’s.  If the queue to get in is a bit long, listen to the nice wardens who will do their best to direct you round to the entrance to the crypt where you can also pay your slightly expensive entrance fee (UK residents can opt to Gift Aid & turn their ticket into a yearly pass) without dealing with the tourist hoards.  Then try not to get caught taking a sneaky photo of Nelson’s tomb, which didn’t come out properly anyway, and you can get upstairs to the main event.  As we were there for one reason only, we headed straight for the stairs to start the ascent.

stairsAs you’d expect there are a lot of stairs, and not all of them are easy to navigate.  Those, like Mrs Cabbie, that are of a nervous disposition need to think twice about making the trip to the top.  Others, like me & the Cabbette, take these things in our stride, often quite literally sprinting up the stairs only being held up by slow moving Americans the size of a bus or Scandinavians who seemed to insist on taking rucksacks containing their life possessions with them to the top.  But if you do get slightly out of breath on the way up there are plenty of places to stop & have a breather.  There is the from above whispering gallery of course, but my favourite place is the bit where you can look through a glass porthole in the floor at the cathedral beneath and completely shit yourself up.  I mean, the view looks pretty but do you really want to see how high you actually are and how far you’d drop if the 300 year old floor beneath you gave way?  Where’s health & safety when you need them?  But at least the rush of adrenaline helps you make the final push to the top where you are confronted by sight of London spread out around you in all it’s glory.  Well we would have if the gallery at the top wasn’t so full that we had to queue to get outside and despite lot’s of “move alongs” and “Avanti you planks” it took some time to get out and enjoy the view.  But enjoy it we did.  I include one picture of that view, the rest you can see in my Flickr stream.  Sorry BEM & others offended by my Facebook account deletion, but you’ll have to interact with me a different way.  Like opening another tab in your browser, or ringing me.  Difficult as this time might be for you all, I hope our friendships will survive FBgate and still prosper.  Bugger, wasn’t going to get drawn in to all that, perhaps I should leave that for another day and blog post, “How Facebook is evil” or something along those lines…….

But before I go whisper to all my Twitterites about how silly all that lot over on FB are, here’s that view from the top;

river view

mes amis, je tiens à vous présenter, un répertoire des noms de rues de Londres

vale of health

Roughly translated as a few London street names that have taken my fancy over the past few years.  Inspired by a punter who wanted to go The Vale of Health in Hampstead yesterday, it jogged my memory that I had wanted to write about some of the stranger and more interesting street names in London.  But so precious is my time now that I’m such a media whore, I am going to start the ball rolling today and then hope that you, my adoring public, will rise to the challenge and let me know your favourite LONDON road names.  If it takes off, I may even give the directory it’s own page on this site, a rare honour.

So I’m going to start you all off with 10, in no particular order, apart from the one at the top of my list and the reason for my intro de Francais;

Petty France, SW1 – presumably derived from “Petite France” but someone else will have to fill quite why it’s called that.

Vale of Health, NW3 – now, here was a nice Twitter moment (groans all round from non Twitter users and BM who thinks Twitter is for narcissists – moi??), after tweeting that I’d done a job to the Vale of Health, one of my cabbie colleagues gave me the following information about it; “name was changed to disguise the fact that this was once a swampland and tanning pit and quite unsavoury till redeveloped”.  There, a cabbie told you, so it must be true.

Newington Butts & Newington Causeway – both quite grand sounding but sadly just part of the concrete jungle that is the Elephant & Castle traffic system.

Snowsfields, SE1 – Close to the entrance to Guy’s Hospital, a really evocative street name I’d say.

Fleur de Lis Street, E1 – another French influence, another very evocative name.

All quite close together in EC3, I can give you; Mincing Lane, sorry but it makes me think of Dick Emery every time I go down it, Seething Lane, Crutched Friars, Rood Lane and last but by no means least, London Street which just got the nod over England’s Lane for sheer arrogance, believing it can speak for the whole city.  London Street is, however, such a disappointment, being part of the one way system that takes you past the front entrance to Fenchurch Street Station.  But I’d love my address to be No. 1 London Street.  Wouldn’t you?

London loves….

band…..the way people just fall apart……..

Oh my, Friday 3rd July 2009 was some day. A day when I stepped out of my comfort zone and lived to tell the tale. Regular readers of this blog may have picked up on my propensity for over excitement and hyperbole when I talk about London. Well this post has the potential for people to think the same about how I view, and write about, myself. It’s difficult not to show a bit of yourself when you keep a blog. But my focus has always tried to be about stuff, and things, and other people. But my week, and more importantly my day on Friday, have had a potentially profound effect on me. Really. Much as I enjoyed Blur, and they were fantastic, it has precious little to do with them either. This is all about me, me, me and what I did. I’m breaking one of my personal rules and going all self aware and, possibly, a bit self-important on you all. I’ll apologize in advance, you can all start hating me now.

Back in the great Britpop war I was always on the side of Blur. Oasis, to me, were always a bit provincial and Blur had that metropolitan style and not a small amount of substance to back up the air of arrogance. Come on people, Oasis had one and half decent albums then fell off a cliff into Status Quo-esque parody and cliche after cliche. Blur produced one album that truly tapped into a generation (Parklife), then followed it with work that at least showed signs of progression and many moments of true quality. And I haven’t even mentioned the first 2 albums which also contain some great pop moments. Their comeback had sort of passed me by though. I had a similar problem with The Specials this year, did I really want to see these old men be a shadow of their former selves? I thought that I didn’t. But as the gigs got nearer, I was getting 2nd thoughts. Lots of people I knew were talking about going, Twitter was talking about it big time, I even let myself watch a bit of the Glasto coverage. And they didn’t look that different, Damon was back to being THAT Damon, Alex is, er, Alex and Mr Coxon has grown up into Graham Coxon Superstar. Poor old Dave just really gets ignored doesn’t he? But then he always was.

And, after my usual waffling, we get to the main event – last Friday. And what I’m going to talk about isn’t much to do with the gig, it’s really about how I ended up being there and what I also did that day. Writing this blog has lead me down paths I didn’t even know existed. It now appears that it’s starting to change me in ways that I didn’t know I could change. Hopefully, these changes will be for the better, but then I’m not the one to judge that. Those that know me well will soon pull me up if I show signs of over confidence or too much self importance. Having made the decision that I should go I then had to get a ticket, I Tweeted, I Gumtreed, I tried sister-in-law who once shared a house with Dave Rowntree. But nothing quite came off. And while I was doing this, my cab had a fit on Monday and was off the road for a couple of days, I was helping launch @tweetalondoncab (see my last post), I met @paul_clarke to chew the fat on a few ideas and I also did a two hour film shoot with the BBC for a Ukranian TV show. Blimey. If BEM is reading this, I know he isn’t going to believe I could be quite so energetic and pro-active. Then on Friday, still without a ticket for Blur, I took a deep breath and headed for the Tuttle Club, something I really would never have done even a few months ago. But I went, talked to a few people and really enjoyed myself. Finally finding out that my Gumtree contact was basically touting his spare ticket I decided that I’d go anyway and get one from a bone fide tout. And just to clarify, I was going to attend this event with none of my regular mates. I knew a few Twitter contacts were going and was hoping to meet as many of them as possible, but once again I would never previously have thought of heading for something like this without the safety net of a couple of “regular” friends. But head off I did, and tried to play my confident Londoner card with the tout, after returning the ticket he gave me that was for Thursday 2nd July, they eventually supplied me with a “charity” ticket that had clearly been some sort of freebie. But after being sent to every single entrance around the perimeter, I eventually got in (having to make a £10 charity donation in the process) but was rewarded with a guest wristband. And once I was in, I waited to make contact with anyone I might possibly know who was already there. And here’s the real nub of what I’m trying to say, I waited ON MY OWN, had a few drinks in the bar where nice waitresses will bring you more beer when you need it, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I ended up sharing a table WITH STRANGERS and even TALKED TO THOSE STRANGERS.  And what could have been better?  Not much from where I was sitting, & TALKING TO STRANGERS.  What I hadn’t factored in was my phones useless battery and the fact that thousands of people being so close, means minimal phone & data connections. But I managed to hook up with @Britt_W, her lovely daughter Mirjam and Mirjam’s boyfriend. And a good night was had by all. Blur rocked, played exactly the right songs, in pretty much exactly the right order and I even got a cab home. I’ll pass over the fact that he was a very miserable cabbie.

After all that excitement in one week, what I have I learned? Well, Blur are ace, I should go to more gigs, I can talk to all sorts of people about all sorts of things, I can say “yes I enjoyed it” in Ukranian. But more than anything, I learned to do stuff on my own. Not be on my own, not all the time anyway, but be prepared to go a little bit out on a limb and get outside of my comfort zone. It seems that doing that makes you feel a bit better about yourself.

ps, I’ve also bought tickets for The Specials in November. They’d better be bloody good.