A Christmas Sesh
My Brother had a Big Birthday yesterday and although he does not enjoy coming up to London, he gave it a try for a city day out. It turned out to be a pretty good template for a chatty stroll in the short daylight hours.
We started in Shoreditch at the Bike Shed, a warren-like motorcycle club/restaurant/bar/museum/ barbershop, then progressed down Shoreditch High Street to Boxpark to watch the idiot hipsters having their veins opened for ‘intravenous shenanigans’ at ‘Get A Drip’, the eerily popular go-to for vitamin boosting party shots.
In the light of reading Dickens again, London struck me as oddly unchanging. New buildings going up, road drills, someone singing, new alleyways and tunnels, old staircases and crowds. I had factored in too many detours, unchanging Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the Temple of Mithras, Dicken’s statue in Holborn, so instead we went to Leadenhall Market (above), to be surrounded by silver griffins, carol singers, Christmas snow-blowers and a torch singer belting out forties’ yuletide hits.
A heavy breakfast having removed the desire for luncheon, we repaired to the all-but-forgotten Samuel Pepys pub, down a neglected side alley to the river that’s hard to spot, where a handful of drinkers were playing shuffleboard. Here you can sit (and nearly always find a seat) overlooking the Thames, and realise that it is being used once more by barges and tugs. The foreshores are cleaner and even sandy, with plenty of tosher-tat at the water’s edge, but nothing you’d really want to take home (clay pipe? Bit of a vase? London-red house brick?)
At high tide the waters lap just below the pub’s balcony. This is now the only North Side pub remaining on the water that I can think of until you get to the East End. I remember going here with my father on Boxing Day aged around 14 and sitting on the balcony to watch the ships.
Okay, so not much of a Sesh, frankly, but we’re getting old. Having had a surfeit of refreshment we decided the forego the more obvious choice of the sumptuously decorated Black Friar (too many tourists photographing every square inch) and left other Thames-side boozers for another time. I pray London does not follow the fate of Paris, which has lost many of its secret corners, sacrificed to the tourist selfie. We seem so self-aware now, yet there are parts of London that remain in deep hiding from the casual visitor, partly because of its maze-like structure, and partly because people are wary of – well, that dark alley above for a start.