diamond geezer

 Monday, August 15, 2016

9 Places in London that Londoners never go
(even though visitors think we do)

We might have been there once, maybe when we were small, or had friends from out of town in tow. But these are places we try very hard to avoid, firstly because they're rammed with tourists and secondly because there are far, far better places to enjoy. Still, don't let us disillusion you. Do please continue to throng to these tourist honeytraps, not just because your money keeps our capital going but mostly because it keeps you well out of our way.

The M&Ms store
No Londoner ever walked into the M&Ms abomination in Leicester Square and felt at ease. Instead they grimaced at the bare-faced commercial bravado of the enterprise, a feeling which only intensified as they descended into further levels of hellish confectionery. Who are these grinning candy shell figures, why are all the staff hyperactive, and how come everything costs at least five times what it's worth? Had Joseph Rowntree ventured down from York to London and opened Smarties World, a celebration of cardboard tubes and alphabetised lids, then we might have been interested. As it is, we see you carrying your bright yellow carrier bags on the tube and we judge you to be fools.

Madame Tussauds
Marie's waxwork emporium rose from humble beginnings, but now has ideas way above its station. That station is Baker Street, out of which thousands of keen visitors stream daily to wait for hours, unless they've stumped up extra to beat the queue. Inside they find hordes of celebrities they can take selfies with, because that's now the entire point of visiting, from catwalk stars to bedsit vloggers and from future queens to Bollywood royalty. Alas the London Planetarium was terminated ten years ago and now houses a dubious 4D superhero experience, while even the famous Chamber of Horrors closed indefinitely this spring and will no doubt be reborn as something even more horrible. Keep your £29 and stay away.

The London Eye
We all came here years ago, and the Westminster skyline hasn't changed so much that we've ever felt the need to rush back. Sure we loved looking down on the little buses and Big Ben, and the broadening vistas across the Royal Parks, but been there done that, so we're happy to leave the place to tourists now. It's bad enough walking through the queues when we're on the South Bank, let alone joining them, and those 'hilarious' silver-painted gravity-defying beggars only ever make the congestion worse. Plus we didn't really enjoy being herded into the Eye's pods with random strangers who might include screaming children, and the souvenir photo opportunity on the way down left us cold.

The Cable Car
Yes, this too. Those of us who were ever going to Fly Across The Thames have already done it, and none of us genuinely come this way as part of our commute. There is no latent passenger demand between an entertainment hub and an exhibition centre, although anyone who had Olympic tickets at both sites four years ago may have found it genuinely useful. Instead the Dangleway is the exclusive preserve of families from out of town, inspired by the opportunity of a genuinely cheap thrill, and part of the must-see trail for foreign visitors too. How politely they pay over the odds, not realising that their contactless card allows immediate entrance and a lower fare. May the sight of the Silvertown scrapyards live long in their memory.

Tower Bridge/Tower of London
Nothing quite says London like a Gothic bridge which occasionally lifts up, its stirring profile famous around the world. So the world always comes to take a look, damn them, completely overfilling Tower Hill station before clogging up the middle of the bridge to grab the perfect Snapchat frame. Then there's the Tower itself, an amazing medieval fortress and raven sanctuary, which foreign visitors dash round in double quick time for fear of missing out. Laugh at the beefy men telling jokes in a language you almost comprehend, stand on the conveyor belt to glide past the Queen's pretty jewels, and ravage the gift shops for a heritage-shaped souvenir.

Buckingham Palace
Because of the special way the heart of our capital is laid out, no Londoner ever has any need to go anywhere near the front of Buckingham Palace. So we've turned over the ceremonial centre to our foreign guests, and at eleven o'clock they swarm like bees to a honeypot to watch The Soldier Thing. Some music starts up over the heads of the people in front, before some men in furry hats approach from somewhere out of sight, then some shouting takes place, and eventually everyone marches off again. Nobody's quite sure what they've seen, but it was absolutely world-beating, and that's your morning sorted.

The Shard
Regular chaos at London Bridge station means Londoners throng around the base of the Shard all day. What they don't do is walk in off the street and decide to pop up to the viewing gallery at the top, mainly because they have better things to do with £31, for example using it to pay a few hours rent. Instead the upper echelons are half-full with anniversary couples from Essex, who pre-booked ages ago before they knew the view would be grey, and foreign travellers for whom the entrance fee is peanuts ever since the referendum dragged our currency down. "But where is Twickenham?" they cry, distressed, and drown their sorrows with another prosecco.

The River Thames
It's madness, but Londoners rarely give their river the time it deserves. A fleet of small boats plies its silver thread, following an ideal uncongested commuter route. But the city's residents cram onto trains and buses in preference, leaving the catamarans and clippers to carry tourists past the landmarks of their dreams. Here is Tate Modern, here is St Paul's, here is Hays Galleria shopping centre, and soon we arrive in Greenwich. It beats the view from the top of the open-topped £20 sightseeing bus, another form of tourist transport shunned by Londoners because they know the the streets look much the same from the upper deck of the 11 or 23.

Planet Hollywood
When dining out, no Londoner would ever consider stepping through the doors of this particular restaurant. We know there are better places for burgers, cheaper places for cocktails, and less exuberant places to be wowed by memorabilia. Similarly we snub the Hard Rock Cafe, we avoid anywhere offering 'genuine British fish and chips', and we never take over-priced afternoon tea in a hotel. But it's the Angus and Aberdeen Steak Houses which we know to avoid at all costs, their home-grown reputation at rock bottom, whereas visitors continue to file inside wide-eyed, before having their plastic emptied and their opinions of UK cuisine reinforced.

(article includes several gross generalisations, but sssh, that's modern journalism for you)

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream