Now I Know

Whilst we were in London at the weekend we made a number of small discoveries. Here are ten things that I didn’t know this time last week:

1. The cost of living in London is…
…very reasonable where public transport and food shopping are concerned. We also spent very little more on going out to eat or for a drink than we do in Sheffield. I found this rather surprising – I’m sure that there used to be a really big difference. We’ve noticed costs shooting up in Sheffield recently; I suppose this has caused the gap to narrow. Perhaps I should correct my original statement to: “The cost of living in Sheffield is very expensive nowadays.”

Of course once you add in housing costs (which is surely most people’s biggest expense) then I’m sure the gap between the cost of living in London and in Sheffield would be as enormous as ever.

2. Piped music is played in the most unlikely places
I remember being amazed on a school trip to Alton Towers a few years ago, when I discovered that the cheery background music from the TV advert was actually there in real life, being piped out through speakers that were (almost) hidden in the bushes. I felt as if I had landed in one of those cheery Disney movies of my childhood and that I should start skipping around and smiling happily. It was just as irritating, but less of a surprise when I experienced the annoying piped music at Disneyland Paris.

However I was totally unprepared for the sonic blast from the unbelievably loud organ music being played in Southwark Cathedral last Saturday. (Think Herbert Lom in The Phantom of the Opera, but with the volume turned up to 11.) That’s taking the idea of piped music a little too literally! How thoughtful of them to provide a nice gothic soundtrack, it helped me realise that I was supposed to feel amazed and over-awed. And deaf.

3. A permit is required to take photos in Southwark Cathedral
I should really have gone and purchased one of these permits, it would have been a good investment: the cathedral was beautiful, the available postcards were rather underwhelming.

4. The worst busker in the world plays at St Paul’s tube station
What’s that noise? It’s a busker who was so bad that I started running for the train. Anything to get away from that racket. Nooooooo. Make him stop.

He was still there when we got back, although on a second encounter I realised that the busker himself wasn’t that bad, in fact I would be perfectly happy to listen to him unaccompanied, but unfortunately he was playing along to the most annoying backing music in the universe.

5. It is possible to walk past a bookshop without stopping to buy a book
In fact it is possible to walk past several bookshops without purchasing anything. I managed to get through the entire weekend without buying a single book. (Although Mr TLC did help me by taking me firmly by the arm and walking briskly away when I was nearly pulled into one particularly tempting establishment.)

6. A skateboarder attempting to cross the Millenium Bridge makes enough noise to drown out the London traffic and passing airplanes.
I say attempting to cross, because this experience suggested that skateboards don’t really work on the surface of this particular bridge, so as well as being extremely loud, the would-be skateboarders ground to an untimely halt.

7. My Great-Grandfather once swam across the Thames for a bet
According to my Dad, this crazy adventure was attempted because of a bet involving the sum of half a crown. I wonder what my Great-Grandfather spent his winnings on?

8. An offer of a chance to see the clocks at Greenwich is no substitute for a boat trip
Dad, please take note: I think Mrs Dad really, really wants to go on a boat trip down the Thames, but I don’t think she shares your enthusiasm for clocks. (Perhaps you would like to take me to Greenwich instead?)

9. An enormous crack in the ground can look amazing
I didn’t expect to be impressed by Doris Salcedo‘s Shibboleth at Tate Modern, but sometimes you have to see the real thing to fully appreciate it. So off we went to visit the much photographed crack in the ground.

Of course photographs don’t really give you that sense of scale that you get when you are standing next to something. We walked along the crack, we stood either side of it (but I have to say that we didn’t feel “divided” by it), we reached down into it and, of course, we photographed it. I loved it.


10. There is so much more to Jackson Pollock than splattered paint
Jackson Pollock gets treated a bit unfairly in our house. I blame Red Dwarf. If you are a fan you will know exactly what I mean!

It was great to see some paintings by this magnificent artist when we visited Tate Modern. In fact Mr TLC announced that Naked Man With A Knife was his favourite of all the pieces that we saw. I am less decisive than Mr TLC and whilst I also really liked this particular painting, I’m still undecided about my favourite piece, there were too many to choose from.

I’ll have to get back to you about that one.

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