Tag Archives: London tourists

I rest my case

When a woman with a small pull-along airline case asked for ‘The Griffin’ I naturally took her to the sleazy pub conversion in Clerkenwell. On arriving my passenger got out and walked past the thickset tattooed bouncer on the door, as another heavily made-up young woman got in with the ubiquitous suitcase full of stage outfits and asked for Brown’s – a well-known strip club in Shoreditch. With that, girl number one returned wearing a rather startled expression to inform me accusingly that it was certainly NOT the Griffin pub she wanted. The moral of the story: Don’t always assume small flight bags are full of G-strings.

Londoners have fallen in love with these modern versions of a valise and they’re everywhere, some owners couldn’t imagine life without them.

They are usually found directly in front of you, carried up escalators, squeezed into lifts or pulled down the pavement. Stand in any tube station or on any street corner, particularly on a Friday or a Monday, and one of these beasts will come lumbering into view within seconds.

London is full of people trying to get somewhere else, escaping the capital for a weekend break. At first glance, the wheelie suitcase appears the perfect solution, but as diamondgeezer points out, the traditional suitcase is carried by the side, adding only width. The new wheelie suitcase trails behind, adding just depth instead. The surface area of ground covered is therefore noticeably greater with a wheelie suitcase than it is with the traditional handheld model. Even worse, this surface area increases the shorter the traveller pulling the suitcase along. If you’re six-foot-something then the handle of the wheelie suitcase points pretty much straight up, which isn’t too bad. However, if you’re four-foot-nothing then the handle is much closer to the ground, so the wheels lag a lot further behind. It’s a simple matter of trigonometry.

Put bluntly, a group of tiny tourists can clog up a tube station in seconds. If you really have to have one, please just hold it upright, or get a taxi.

Anecdote taken from EveryoneIs Entitled To My Opinion available from Amazon.


Have you ever wondered just how confusing London appears? Nothing functions as it should or is where you think it is.

For instance, despite its name, the Circle Line is not exactly circular. Queensway Station is in Bayswater while Bayswater Station is to be found in, you guessed it, Queensway. Harrods isn’t in Knightsbridge and the immoveable Greenwich Meridian Line has well moved.

How about Green Lanes, which isn’t named after a green lane and is only spoken of in the plural, even though it’s just one very long road.

There are two Finsburys which are in different places, with very different house prices.

Take the Thames, which meanders so much that in places the North side is further South than the South side.

For The Knowledge boy, there are the hospitals that need to be found which aren’t where they’re supposed to be. Hammersmith’s is in White City, Charing Cross’s is in Hammersmith and the Chelsea is nowhere near – you get the idea.

Let’s get off the road and go Underground. To go south into the West End from King’s Cross you have to go north to Euston, except that Euston is actually West. Blackfriars is the only station that’s on both sides of the river. Oh, and its trains are only half the length of the station platform so you could miss it even when you’re on time to catch it because you’re at the wrong end.

Try Baker Street underground instead; to exit the station you have to go down to another platform going in a different direction, then back up and along yet another tunnel – and it’s really badly signposted, so you’ll probably end up somewhere else. Mind you I was once called a crook by a customer asking for Baker Street when she wanted the Sherlock Holmes Hotel and I dropped her off outside the station.

Until not long ago, a cab could drive right onto the platform at Paddington station, but now there’s no parking anywhere and they’ve separated rail and tube lines so that connections are a nightmare.

Some tube stations are so close together that it’s faster to walk. Others, like the one in Westminster, are ten minutes from the next station.

Tourists get very confused by London; apparently, the most common mistakes are not standing on the right on escalators, mixing London Bridge with Tower Bridge and the Museum of London with the British Museum, and err… public drinking in the street.

The national dish is curry, in London we have things like pop-up urinals and Belisha beacons denote pedestrian crossings.

No Londoner has ever eaten in an Angus Steak House or been to The Mousetrap.

Streets that continue across their ends and the house numbers that alternate except when new buildings have changed the numbering systems or numbers which run sequentially or alternately.

So come to London and – in the nicest possible way – get lost.

London’s less attractive attractions

If you like to visit London attractions – and I use that word advisedly – TfL have usefully compiled a list of the top 10 by visitor numbers. Most have been visited by locals at least once, and if you have children, 3 on the list are compulsory. The list is not what you would expect when you see the queues outside more famous venues during summer months. But, I suppose, during winter the locals boost the numbers on the TfL list:

1. British Museum

2. Somerset House

3. National Gallery

4. London Eye

5. Tate Modern

6. Tower of London

7. Natural History Museum

8. Victoria and Albert Museum

9. Science Museum

10. Madame Tussauds

[T]ourists, on the other hand, seem less discerning in their choice, or should that be they are easily persuaded by the advertising. So here is the tourist bucket list of London ‘attractions’ with a few pithy comments from me:

Madame Tussauds
What makes this place so popular? Well, if this your thing, you can stand face to face with exact wax replicas of famous people. To get to see a waxen immobile David Beckham requires an extremely long wait that can last hours. Not only that the queue is situated in the most polluted place in London, so bad there is a monitoring station opposite. So if paying £30 to see some inanimate objects is your thing Tussauds is a must. If however, you don’t want to risk getting a lung infection, pay £50 for a fast track ticket.

Changing The Guard
The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes between 11.00-11.45am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from January to March, weather permitting. Now don’t get me wrong, I support the armed forces as much as any Englishman, but does ‘weather permitting’ mean soldiers don’t like fighting in the rain? Anyway, at least this attraction is free.

M&Ms World
A temple to colour and sickly chocolate. Descend into the basement for a Dante’s Inferno of psychedelic overpriced confectionery. Visit the LEGO store opposite if the kids really crave to go shopping.

Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
Choose between a recorded script available in 12 languages or a real person – who’s not a Londoner – the tour manager has just memorised the English script. Better book a London cab tour conducted by someone who’s spent years learning about London or a Blue Badge Guide with a qualification in London’s rich history.

The London Dungeon
The London Dungeon is a macabre and frankly terrifying place to visit. The queues are as long as Tussauds but at least, as you wait, you can smell the Thames instead of diesel engines. The people who work there put on a horror show – there is no claim to any sort of historical accuracy – billed as a tour through 1,000 years of London brutal and filthy history. Want to be entertained about murder? Go see the Mousetrap.

Once the icon of a London department store, claiming where you could buy anything from a thimble to an elephant. The Harrod’s of yesteryear has changed. After a succession of foreign owners, Harrod’s is not very British anymore. In the weeks leading up to Ramadan, it’s surrounded by very expensive, illegally parked, Middle Eastern cars. Hang around after closing to watch them race around Knightsbridge. Now Harrod’s has become a very high priced department store for wealthy foreign shoppers. Take a selfie outside its ornate frontage and walk on by.

Piccadilly Circus
If you wish to spot a ‘real’ Londoner, don’t go to Piccadilly Circus. The last time Londoners congregated here was on VE Day in 1945, but every tourist seems to head here first. Why? It is essentially a busy junction permanently jammed with traffic, with several huge illuminated signs, even these have been switched off this year for maintenance. French exchange students have lunch on the steps of the Eros statue at exactly the same time. Perplexing, but suppose it’s one of the few public spaces in London which doesn’t commemorate our victories over their nation.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Most of the artefacts stretch the reality of truth and have no historical basis. The exhibits are tired and showing their age. And No! I don’t believe it. If you have an overwhelming desire on your trip to London to see pickled body parts consider visiting the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons which features thousands of genuine preserved animals specimens.

Boris Buoys
The last vanity project by our Foreign Secretary. Once you’re past the cranes and concrete, you can’t fail to notice the in-your-face Emirates branding. A master class in advertising their brand and if having their name plastered everywhere is clearly not enough, they’ve decided to try and convince everyone this is a flight. Only used by a handful of commuters, mostly the buoys are empty and to reinforce its lack of passengers the ticket office at North Greenwich station has closed for good. Don’t book a cabin for your exclusive use at £88 you’ll probably be lonely in your buoy on your ‘flight’.

Abbey Road Crossing
It’s THAT crossing which featured on an album cover of an LP pressed before anyone posing for their photo on the crossing today was alive. I doubt if anybody could remember the tracks, I can’t, and I was alive when the original was released. Check out the CCTV live coverage if you must. The irony is that Paul McCartney (he’s the third in line, in case you don’t know) lives nearby and often walks past unnoticed.

And my list in case you asked:

1. St Paul’s Cathedral

2. Houses of Parliament (not now they are encasing it with scaffolding for the next 5 years)

3. Buckingham Palace (when open)

4. Tower of London

5. St James’s Park

6. Shakespeare’s Globe

7. Westminster Abbey

8. Natural History Museum

9. British Museum

10. River Thames
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CabbieBlog-cabThe opinions expressed here are solely those of Gibson Square, they are not recommendations nor endorsements. This is not a sponsored post. If you disagree with me please comment.