Spoke 149 – Stranded!

South Bank

A pleasant ramble today, through a ghost town. I avoided main roads except, briefly, the Euston Road, where HS2 protesters had set up camp in the small park in front of Euston Station.

By coincidence, the spoke took me past The Savoy (on The Strand, near Charing X) which didn’t look very barracksy, although was guarded by a gold caped crusader. I enjoyed taking the time to mooch en route, around Old St Pancras Churchyard, for example, and then later, the little lanes to the south of Denmark Street. I also visited the LSE quarter near Holborn. The whole world was there, or at least a model of it, and a few socially distant students behind glass, and a curiously clean cherry picker outside Charles Dickens’s shoppe.

I ducked down to the Thames by the side of Strand Station (Aldwych Tube Station) reflecting that the virus had reversed the map of the underground. Modern stations had become ghosts. Ghost stations, on the other hand – Kentish Town South, York Road, Strand Station and the like – seemed to have a renewed pulse.

When Strand Station opened, there were just a few beach huts holding out heroically against the North Sea tides, some crab pots, bladderwrack and a Roman Bath. Today, Somerset House, chained up, looked more like a barracks than The Savoy.

By the time I reached the south side of Waterloo Bridge, the drugs had kicked in. The lower branches of the trees along the South Bank were luminous snakes. It was busy, too, so I popped a stick of oxy-gum. I held my breath as far as Hungerford Bridge where I slipped into the river and swam back to Waterloo Bridge underwater so as not to alarm anybody and climbed out via the RNLI pontoon, to which I have a key.

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