Sunday, May 15, 2005

Good Times

"Much of the old spirit of gallantry has disappeared from Piccadilly, like many of the great houses that stood there. No longer does a dustman seeing a fabulous beauty, like Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, alighting from here carriage, exclaim, "Love and bless you, my lady, let me light my pipe in your eyes!" Still, on a fine spring morning, with the red buses flashing past against the fresh greeness of the park; with the echo of last night's gaiety from the many hotels restaurants and night clubs, still in the air; with the promise of a new, bright day ahead - you'll agree that Piccadilly is still a pretty good place to be."

Oh, magical London. Awaiting the start of Henry IV, Part I on the Thames Southbank Saturday afternoon, hungover following a debaucherous orgy of wine and spirits at Picadilly's Tiger Tiger, I managed to discover a little gem of a book from one of the second-hand sellers: "The Good Time Guide to London" by Francis Aldor, published in 1951, for all of 1 pound.

The book is filled with eccentric trivia and detailed passages regarding London's many boroughs and pleasures, written in an intimate and ironical tone right up my alley. Consider this:

"Whether you come to London as a teetotal student of English national psychology, or, like myself, as a serious collector of alcoholic experience and convivial characters, you will never really know the Englishman until you meet him in the pub."

Outstanding - words out of my mouth, surely. So survived another mad weekend, and looking forward to visiting many of the recommended locations upon the next trip into the City. Next time, we'll be sure to seek out the old gin haunts that (Aldor tells me) once advertised proudly "drunk for a penny, dead-drunk for twopence and clean straw provided." Oh my.


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