Lynn had booked three rooms at a hotel near the Barbican, and after carrying a backpack around all day I was happy to check in and dump it. The room was spacious and the décor reflected the area. This was the bathroom floor:
This was the art above the bed:
Some people might be disconcerted to sleep beneath meat-hook themed art, but I took comfort in knowing I was not the only weirdo who meditated on meat hooks.
In keeping with modern design principles, I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the bedside lights. I called the front desk and—I could tell from her voice she had done this many times before—the front desk person walked me through how to grope my way around until I found the tiny, arty button that operated the bedside lights. The room had a mini kitchen so you could cook for yourself and save money. That wasn’t going to happen tonight.
Lynn and Richard and Possum and I met in the lobby and walked over to Charterhouse Square to have a pre-dinner drink at the Fox and Anchor, a pub and boutique hotel. It was built in 1898 which makes it Victorian, but it looks very Gilded Age or Art Deco to me. These photos don’t do justice to the detail.
We sat outside, soaking up the sun and some drinks, then hailed a black cab to a Thai restaurant. There are cheaper ways to get around London, like mini cabs and public transport. Maybe I’m sentimental, but I prefer black cabs, especially when someone else is paying for them.
Here’s what the black cab driver wannabe website says about becoming a black cab driver:
“The London taxi drivers are almost as famous as the black cabs in which they drive, this is mainly due to their in-depth knowledge of London and ability in taking their occupants to their desired destination amid the congestion and the chaos that you often find when travelling through London’s streets.
“Easy you might think with the world of sat navs? Think again. Hail down a black cab in London and you can be assured that the driver will know the shortest and quickest route to your destination without the aid of a satnav. It doesn’t matter if you give them a street name, a famous landmark, a hotel name or famous point of interest, they will know exactly where it is and they will get you to it in the shortest route possible.
“London taxi drivers go through stringent training to obtain their licence, they need to pass ‘The Knowledge’, a test which is amongst the hardest to pass in the world, it has been described as like having an atlas of London implanted into your brain.”
London has 60,000 streets within a six-mile radius, many are one way.
A friend of Sam’s and acquaintance of mine was so smitten with black cabs that when he returned to Australia after living in London for 10 years, he bought an old black cab and had it shipped home with him. I think his plan was to run a cab service, but now he’s teaching in an aboriginal school so I’m not sure what become of the cab.
You may have read recently about Uber being banned from London due to data leaks and disputes over its employment practices. I totally understand why Londoners would want to use Uber. It’s fun to take a black cab, especially when you’re traveling as a group (this is not us):
It’s cool to take a black cab if you’re a tourist or on a special occasion. But for getting around on a daily basis, only the uber wealthy could afford to use black cabs.
On a side note, I downloaded Uber just the other day but was unable to use it because it insisted I enter a UK phone number. I guess my phone is confused and thinks I’m still in the UK.
After a great dinner we caught another black cab and snaked through the heaving streets of Saturday-night London. After dodging jay-walking revelers for 20 minutes, we reached our destination, Wyndhams Theatre, two miles from our hotel.