London’s Seven (Excellent) Wonders



1. The Impromptu!

Walking into a theatre off the street at 7:20pm and getting a ticket for a so-called sold-out West End play. Gathering friends at short notice, wandering off to find a pub or a restaurant without having booked.

2. The Low Key!

Curling up with some Squeezable Marmite, McVities Chocolate Digestives, a nice cup of tea on a rainy afternoon, or wandering around parks in your favourite ratty jumper. London is about wearing and doing whatever you want.

3. The Calories!

The South Bank on a warm summer morning one hour before the tourists turn up, followed by breakfast in Brixton Market, a lunchtime beer in Spittalfields, Dim Sum in Chinatown, Sunday chicken, lamb or beef with a Yorkshire at the Pig & Butcher or the Jugged Hare or the Lady Ottoline, an evening curry in Brick Lane. Calories be damned!

4. The free stuff!

London is one of the most expensive cities on earth but there are free museums, movies, plays, concerts and readings – it’s just knowing where to look. And my free coming-of-age travel pass. How cool are those things? I keep thinking they’ve made some kind of weird mistake.

5. The language!

How many complex pinball-topic conversations can you have in  a single day just by walking around London by yourself and chatting to people? Savour the sarcasm and surreal off-the-cuff wit! Listen to a taxi driver rant! Have a drunken pub conversation about Iron Man taking down Boris Johnson!

6. The Unexpected!

Leadenhall Market, the Huntarian, the Cinema Museum, site-specific pop-ups, unscheduled events, a protest march you didn’t know about, secret gigs, a barely advertised appearance (last week I heard Alan Bennett discuss his career an hour before curtain up on one of his plays), a band you’ve never heard of turning out to be brilliant.

7. The diversity!

All the languages of the world are here, yet everyone who spends even just a short time in London becomes an honarary Londoner, and starts apologising for standing on the wrong side of the escalator. It’s the most inclusive city in the world, and gets moreso with each passing year as the wealthy head off to their countryside estates, leaving the place to those who really appreciate it.

11 comments on “London’s Seven (Excellent) Wonders”

  1. snowy says:

    The Hunterian houses several of the very few surviving examples of Humans sliced into ‘rashers’, and laminated onto wooden boards. [The correct name evades me ATM].

    Squeezy Marmite is a modern innovation of dubious value, given that it costs 50% more than the original, [and I suspect to add further insult, that to make it squeezy it has been watered down.]

    When it gets to the end you are still left trying to chase the last bits of goodness out of the corners of the ‘jar’ with the butter knife. The only upside is its potential as a readily consealable/covert water pistol.

    (As to the vexed and unresolved question of what particular flavour of choccy digestive is involved, plain vs. milk. I would infer that a liking for Marmite would imply that they are plain choc.)

  2. admin says:

    Milk for the chocolate digestives, thanks, and Squeezable means you don’t get it down the side of the jar, the cat, your mum etc.

  3. snowy says:


    Getting it on the cat was a bonus, you could stick it to the front of the sideboard, and watch the legs paddle thin air. (Oh the days before 24 hour Tv.)

    Any way what did I come back for? I remember, the humans reduced to a slice of streaky bacon are the Evelyn Tables.

  4. Jo W says:

    Marmite on the cat? I’ve always preferred it on bread. From a proper jar!

  5. Steve says:

    As much time as I’ve spent in London (and the rest of the UK), I’ve always been terrified of marmite. It’s got one of those you-either-love-it-or-you-hate-it reputations. I don’t know what I’m so afraid of; I could always spit it into a napkin if it’s awful. In any case I’ve never tried it.

  6. snowy says:

    Steve, Marmite (direct from the jar), has a very strong flavour and should be used sparingly, similar to English mustard.

    If you wish to taste it without risk, look out for a packet of potato crisps flavoured with it, open the packet, have a sniff and if you are still game, pluck out the smallest crisp and just lick it, (you’ll taste salt and umami).

    No spitting required, and if you are still not horrified, you could move up to a whole crisp! 🙂

    [Ok sensible time, the fearsome reputation of Marmite is because children with pristine tastebuds are fed it by well meaning grown-ups (for the vitamin content), who have forgotten how strong it is, apply much too much, and a good proportion of the children simply never get over the shock.]

  7. Steve says:

    Hmmm….strong flavors don’t usually put me off. Maybe I’ll screw my courage to the sticking place next time we’re there and give it a go. Watch this space…..!

  8. Helen Martin says:

    You could then move on to Vegemite, Steve.

  9. Steve says:

    Vegemite? Good heavens what’s next, Veganmite?

  10. snowy says:

    Veganmite, a spread made of 100% pure vegan?

    I’d give it a go, it would probably taste like veal. [Perhaps with a nice Chianti?]

  11. Helen Martin says:

    Talk to the Aussies, Snowy. I think it involves yeast.

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