I Spy… What Lies Beneath

Hasteful MammalThis afternoon, I went looking for a secret London street.  Well, maybe not secret —based on the evidence of my own eyes, cabbies certainly seem to know it’s there — but arguably hidden.  At the very least, I can say it’s a street I didn’t know existed, despite being somewhere I thought I knew quite well.  It’s also more of a tunnel.

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I Spy… Walkways in the Air

Hasteful MammalHaving on several occasions whiled away an afternoon in the Museum of London, I knew that it could only be accessed from a high-level walkway above London Wall but I’d never given this too much thought.  I also knew of a couple of pedestrian bridges I’d spotted that I had no idea where they went.  And of course I knew about the weird concrete maze of the BarbicanLondon’s ugliest building by far — but I didn’t know they were related, part of a deliberate post-war plan to build the city of the future.  They called it the Pedway!

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I Spy… Iconic Columns

Hasteful MammalIn addition to boxes of various hues, London has other items of street furniture that are common to the rest of the country.  Chief amongst these is the ubiquitous pillar box, found on street corners the length and breadth of the land.  So sturdy, so reassuring, so constant — they are a cultural icon, beacons of stability amid a changing world. The pillar box is quintessentially British.

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I Spy… All That Glisters

Hasteful MammalLondon streets are paved with gold. Everyone knows that. It’s what drew Sir Richard Whittington (c. 1350-1423) to the city to become its Lord Mayor on no less than four occasions.  There’s even a folk tale about it.  Sadly, I’ve never seen the streets paved with actual gold but I do know where they’re paved with something other than tarmac or stone

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I Spy… More Unexpected Items in the Cabbing Area

Hasteful MammalPreviously I went on at some length about the baker’s dozen of strange green sheds that keep London’s black cab drivers fed on tea and bacon butties.  And that’s important because a constant diet of those things are required to maintain a cabbie’s healthy disrespect and colourful opinions.  Without them, they’d just be short-hire chauffeurs and no one wants that.  Which may be why the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund is not alone in saving our taxi drivers from the terrible fate of turning into Parker from Thunderbirds.

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I Spy… An Unexpected Item in the Cabbing Area

Hasteful MammalI think I’ve said more than enough on the subject of blue posts and boxes hiding in plain sight in London.  Rest assured, I shall not be further waxing lyrical on the subject. No indeed, blue boxes are done and dusted. A closed subject.

Green boxes then…

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I Spy… More Blue Boxes

Hasteful MammalHaving tracked down all seven of the eight remaining City of London police telephone posts, I decided to turn my attention outwards towards the rest of London.  By the late 1930s, the Metropolitan Police had erected almost seven hundred police boxes and around seventy of the smaller posts so surely some of those must remain in place?

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I Spy… The Thin Blue (Telephone) Line

Hasteful MammalAfter my recent dragon-hunting adventure I started to wonder what else might be dotted around the City of London’s streets that I had failed to ever really notice.  The most immediate answer, when I opened my eyes and looked about me, seems thematically obvious: if you’re going to place dangerous fire breathing reptiles on your streets, you had better give people the means to call for help when attacked.

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I Spy… Where there be Dragons!

Hasteful MammalThe other week, I went hunting for dragons. I was poorly equipped for such a venture, lacking as I did both lance and steed. I didn’t even have a squire to send ahead to test for draconic, fiery breath.  What I did have was a map of the City of London — a natural habitat for dragons, which are drawn to wealth and greed as moths to a candle. 

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