And so in a concerted effort to avoid the pitfalls of the post-Christmas, pre-New Year settee slump, the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger and I set off on a mid winter stroll around London. Why watch a fictitious local London community come to terms with a tomato ketchup style murder, when you can re-trace the steps of some genuine gruesome back-alleyway bludgeonings?
The organised London Walks are something of a neglected charm for those living in the city. We all know of their existence, but disregard them as an outsider activity.
Dismiss at your peril. For the bargain price of seven pounds, you can spend a couple of hours in the company of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, who has researched a particular theme of London’s history with great detail and passion.
Keeping in the festive spirit, mrs obb and I opted for the Apparitions, Alleyways and Ale walk. The plan was to be spooked from behind up the back passage, and then recuperate with a stiff one in the murky corners of an old alehouse.
A 7:30 meet outside Embankment tube, and we weren’t alone in our quest to walk London, rather than watch it. A ramble of walkers, close to forty in total, and we were all set to stretch out legs in the excellent company of Peter, our good guide for the evening.
On a sub-zero evening, the pace was brisk, and the conversation was plenty. Without the thoughts or distractions of everyday London life and activity, this was a rare opportunity to actually look around and explore the architecture and history that seeps out of every street in central London.
To list all of the apparitions and alleyway stories in order, would be a great disservice to the lexicon of the walk, as given by our great guide. There is no substitute for experiencing the walk itself.
Highlights however included a watchful Samuel Pepys, overlooking the banks of the Old Father, the Adelphi Theatre stage walker, warnings about the perils of taking up seat D1 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the Headless Woman of St James’s Park, and Giro, the Nazi ghost dog that stalks (walks?) Carlton House Terrace.
On a beautifully crisp and clear mid winter evening, most of the walk was illuminated by genuine London gaslights. We were a world away from the faded glamour of London’s glittering West End, yet in truth, we were simply a back alley away from all the crude commercialism of Covent Garden.
The apparitions were unnerving, the alleyways illuminating and the ale, well, the ale was off the agenda. Keen to keep on the walking trail, the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger and I continued our solo off-piste meander at the conclusion of the St Anne’s Gate location, and continued our walk with a cut through to Westminster, and then over the bridge to Waterloo.
Port and Stilton waited back at base, with thoughts of the Headless Woman of St James’s still occupying our minds. Time for a quick channel surf, and BBC3 was showing Eastenders. We slumped on the settee, mocking the Mockneys and their modern day approach to murder.
Now then, about that booking of seat D1 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane…