The poster I saw later somewhere near Hyde Park appeared as sign of solidarity. As if put there by a support group offering self help memes for psychogeographers and flaneurs. Support for an activity some might consider a bit immoral: an act of idling, inefficiency or time wasting. Of not taking the direct route.
Prior to this revelation (the relentless sun, the need to pee and for a drink of water possibly intensified the importance of the notice), my wander had commenced at Falcon Road and through a bit of Battersea. Here I got earworm of the song 'Up The Junction', from the 60s film which was set in these parts, which intensified each time I approached a traffic junction. The frequency of traffic junctions seemed higher than normal. The song faded as I came across a way to the Thames Path, around the side of Falcon Wharf, a large Ballardian appartment building.
Heading into the Thames Path involved skirting the base of the building, which appeared to house a high end hotel and appartments with amenities including a 'wellbeing spa' and a 'baketique' according to the signage. Haven't spas always been promoted as having associations with wellbeing? As for 'baketique', I had to look that up and discovered it is a term for an establishment selling American cupcakes. The internet says this one is permenently closed. The recent cupcake craze is evidently at an end. I've never been sure of the difference between cupcakes, muffins or 'buns' as my nanna called the ones she made. My nannas only came in chocolate or 'plain' flavour. Cupcakes meanwhile seemed to be available in an infinate variety. Too much choice possibly confusing even the most 'sophisticated' consumer was probably their downfall as much as price and sugar content.
Round the corner, a posh woman was rebuking a young man who had been cleaning the railings and then proceeded to empty the contents of his bucket into the river. She'd approached him and told him what he had just done was illegal. Maybe it was. But I'd have thought his 'crimes' would pale into insignificance when compared to the history of people polluting the Thames and I doubt he will be responsible for the next cholera epidemic or doubling in size of London's Fatbergs.
Not hanging about to witness the outcome of the womans overzelous intervention, I carried on along the river path past several new developments I imagined were designed for the 'exclusive' end of the market . A notice politely asked 'please keep off the grass'. The grass in question was a narrow strip so small it seemed barely worth maintaining and the sun had done it's best to bring about its demise.
Across the river, I had noticed a cluster of tower blocks. Rather than the usual grey concrete, or modern steel/glass they appeared to be made out of brown brick. A high rise version of Wentworth Prison perhaps. Or maybe more exclusive flats, from an earlier period. A Sloan Ranger Thamesmead.
The effectiveness of 'business watch' looked in doubt, the eye on the fading notice deteriorating as if afflicted by a cateract.
After a random bus ride across Chelsea Bridge to somewhere near Victoria I soon found myself at Hyde Park Corner, where a Lion and Unicorn were engaged in what looked like a combination of mortal combat and ballroom dancing. The Lion's mane appeared to have faded from red to yellow in tandem with the faded grass in the park. The Lion is meant to represent England. The fading of its mane possibly symbolic of the English inability to cope well in hot weather. The Unicorn is supposed to represent Scotland. The Scottish get even less sun than we do, but the Unicorn appeared unaffected...
From this point my walk took in numerous other figures and statues. The Colossus above seemed to be standing in defiance of the towerblock opposite. This isn't shown that well in the picture, but I couldnt get an optimum angle due to some excitable Italian kids playing frisbee around the base of the statue. The shield from this angle resembles a large friabee, or discuss, which may explained their presence.
Out of Hyde Park and onto the concrete square of Marbel Arch, I came across a behemothic green something. A giant headless semi-amorphous beast from an imagined collaboration between Ray Harryhausen and Salvador Dali appeared to be heading towards me. The square was like a 60s concrete version of a classical square, the Marble Arch looming over it. The sort of place Sinbad or the Argonauts would fight beasts or animated skeletons if they were living in a semi-brutalist age. Voices sought my attention. Not skeletons with swords, or allies in the fight against the giant beast, but tourists wanting me to take their picture in front of the Arch. I obliged, hoping I'd pressed the right button on the camera before wishing them a good day and leaving the square.
Along Oxford Street I fell into line with the tide of shoppers drifting in the direction of Oxford Circus. Looking up, the splendid art deco statue of the winged figure above Selfridges looked like another Harryhausan creation. I half expected it the creek into life and fly across the sea of shoppers and tourists who were probably too focussed on the ground floor to have noticed it.
Soon after crossing Oxford Circus I headed left into Fitzrovia/NOHO and soon located The Champion where I stopped for a swift half and a bag of crisps. I was glad to see it looked barely any different following its recent refurb, and still offered haven of welcoming dark brown and shade. Particularly welcome given the intense heat and bright sun outside.
I resisted the temptation to visit the Blue Posts or the Fitzroy Tavern and wound my way towards Tottenham Court Road. I followed a narrow passage which emerged into a courtyard. On a platform outside a first floor window was an unusual display. A strange boy like figure breaching towards a manequin, with a cast of supporting but no less odd figures dotted about, inside a white frame. What this meant I had no idea. I continued down the passage and out eventually of Fitzrovia.
Along this stretch somewhere I saw the message below on a telecoms/electricity box. What is to be opposed is a far right organisation. I'd not heard of them so googled the term, only to find I was being diverted somewhere within 5 seconds. I twigged it was dodgy and further Google searches confirmed the worst. Before this I had assumed it was the work of people not wanting to be labelled 'millenials', ' gen x' or babyboomers etc, given current attempts to divide people by generation as well race, sexuality, gender, class and suchlike.
Emerging from the University area into Tavistock Square I passed The Tavistock Hotel. I was familiar with it, having stayed there a few times many moons ago. It was one of the few London hotels within our price range. It was a bit like going back in time to it's 1930s(?) art Deco era. The waiters and waitresses in the large breakfast room.were dressed in black and white, and appeared to have been there for an eternity. There was a satisfying ever so slightly damp smell in the rooms which had not, thankfully, been modernised. My last memory of the vicinity was going the the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes located in the basement on one corner of the hotel, to see The London Dirthole Company. There were people playing bowls while the band played i think. Sadly I didn't stay in the hotel on that occasion.
A final pertinent message from Virginia Woolf, echoing the sentiments of the Hyde Park Poster, was quoted via the hotel bar windows: 'The Streets of London have their maps, but our passions are unchartered. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?' The ghosts Bloomsbury were on my side, advocating not taking the direct route.