London is one of the great capitol cities of the world. Once the centre of the British Empire, the pre-eminent power of the 19th century, it is fair to say that there is something here for everyone. I lived here in 1987 and was never bored nor at a loss for something to do.
I leave Heathrow under leaden skies but it is an unseasonably warm 30 degrees. The train takes us through suburbia and for the first time in multiple visits I notice the accumulated grime on the railway embankments and platforms. Paddington station clearly has not seen any cleaning or restorative love for decades nor has the tube which boasts the same rolling stock it did in 1987. Amplifying the sense of neglect is the rubbish bags full of rubbish left on the footpath on our walk to our Airbnb. I am told it is rubbish collection day and due to security issues rubbish bins are no longer being issued but it is not a good look.
We are here of course to see Australia’s last 3 matches in the cricket world cup here and our marathon flight ends inauspiciously with the non arrival of my back pack. I am in London, it is in Bangkok and there is a lot of masterly inactivity happening by the authorities regarding its retrieval. Clad in the one and only set of clothes I have we hit London on our first day starting at Hyde Park and getting glimpses of the changing of the guard through the masses of tourists assembled. We walk 20km winding our way to Westminister all the way to St Paul’s to find that London is less than welcoming for us today. There is scaffolding around Harrods, parts of Parliament and Westminister Abbey. Big Ben is invisible beneath the scaffolding removing one of the iconic views of London. Trafalgar Square is cordoned off for cleaning. Arriving at St Paul’s just before 3 pm we discover that it has been closed to visitors all afternoon for some reason.
The day finishes at the theatre. We have secured excellent seats to “The book of Mormon” which we have been keen to see. While it was well acted and witty it was not as acerbic as we thought it would be.