Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Danger, Danger. High Voltage!

The regular evening walk home across Waterloo Bridge is a fairly mundane experience. It is certainly picturesque, but there’s only so long you can admire the view of St Paul's and Big Ben before your eyes start screaming for blood. And whilst you do get to navigate your way through a shuffling horde of erratic zombies every day, you can’t help thinking it would be so much more fun if you had the opportunity to rip the morons in half with a chainsaw than dodge seamlessly between their plodding, awkward steps. No, instead we plough on in a haze, through the unsmiling dreary masses of office nobodies, with only the tunes of our MP3 players preventing us from committing some carnal bridge-based massacre. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if the number 59 swerved into pedestrians, over the side of the bridge and into the Thames on just one occasion? Or thoroughly exciting if a UFO inexplicably crash landed smashing the bridge to Lego brick styled smithereens? At least it would give us something to talk about.

Well, something did kind of happen yesterday to that affect. A proper diversion, so to speak, to grab the attention away from our soulless bridge-walking existence. The roof of Marconi House on the Aldwych was on fire. Smoke limped down the Kingsway. Fire-fighters tackled the blaze at a snails pace. Tourists looked on proper bemused. Woo, planet excitement here we come! Some media headlines today would have you believe it was the start of the next great fire of London. ‘London’s Burning’ claimed some dickheads! It really, really wasn’t. It was about as distressing as watching an episode of Rainbow and not all that much fun as a spectacle. Particularly as building work on Marconi House (which has been fully knocked down and rebuilt in the last few years) seems to have ceased for what seems like a good year now, rendering a well-known landmark of London somewhat obsolete, unfurnished and well, a bit shit.

No, the real story of yesterday’s event is that people actually looked up from the pavement they were accustomed and glanced at the faces of the people around them. Strangers smiled for once, at one another no less, as the detour to Waterloo Bridge turned into an off-road adventure past the Savoy Hotel and down to the Victoria Embankment. Now, it wasn’t exactly a carnival atmosphere, but the fact something, no matter how small and insignificant, actually happened on the way home, awoke people from their permanent, autopilot slumber. The shackles of our zombiefied nature had been loosened a little as walking in the road down towards the IMAX provided a great sense of freedom from the man and his minions (particularly Gove - what a tit), albeit for a short while at least. Cars had been told to fuck off, and for one evening only, pedestrians ruled the roads! The lively hustle and bustle of bemused yet happy people will certainly remain one of the more memorable walks home for the next few years. It's unlikely anything more substantial will happen on the A4 at 6:00pm on a Tuesday evening, unless a Big Issue seller suddenly cracks, goes mental and starts shoving tourists into the Thames. 

Alas, today was a return to the norm. I really must remember to take my baseball bat with me next week to teach the slowest of walkers and those twonks who refuse to walk in a straight line a perfectly reasonable lesson. There's an evens chance that will at least put the smile on my fellow bridge-walker's faces…!  

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