London Sucks

Posted: March 1, 2012 in Chawn, One More For Love

I am with Big Boots, playing Gears of War when my mobile does the worm. It’s Pilgrim, letting me know what time we’re leaving tomorrow. We’re going to London; a huge trip to celebrate his 4 years at Chawn.


I sigh.

Evocative. Pretentious. Sucky.

Now, I grew up in Birmingham. A dysfunctional city living in a global city neighbourhood. A city that tries to look flashy, with a giant mutated golf ball full of chocolate-coated insects; but that deep down has the integrity of John Terry. Bah! I disapprove.

Until someone mentions London. The Ego of England. Haughty. Boorish. Orc-voiced.

London sucks.


It’s tomorrow. And early. I look outside, and see children playing pooh sticks in the snow as a middle-aged man in a top hat rides a ridiculously massive and small bike. I decide it’s too early, and coax myself into consciousness with Smallville DVDs. And soon I am on a minibus. To Mordor. We park in Paddington’s secret car park, less than a finger’s width from the wall. It’s class parking, and I am concerned, because I have just found something genuinely impressive. In London.

I am remaining vigilant as we reach Buckingham Palace. Pilgrim’s got  the Chawn youth excited about the changing of the guards. He’s Canadian, and this is the kind of thing that gets Canadians excited. Bricks, undiluted squash. They love it. What they don’t know is that the changing of the guards is probably just two blokes switching places and going “alright.” I sigh. Pilgrim’s bouncing. I hope he’s not too disappointed, but then at least he’ll get the true English experience.


I have been blarped! So turn to see a regiment of 17th century horsemen blarping horns. Oh. This this is the changing of the guards?!

Pilgrim is beaming.

I smile. He’s a man of simple pleasures.


Pilgrim takes us on a tour of the city, turning me into deep-tube-thrombosis blocking up the underground. We see the Tower of London, St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. And it’s all a little bit sucky.

Until Irwin and Smithy have an idea.

A class idea. They lie down. And immediately we are into Kodak mode. Pilgrim gets us all to lie in a long line across the front of the Abbey for a picture. We get a small ripple of applause and a song from some nearby Italians. I smile, and ask them what they were singing.

They look nervously at each other.

“Stupid… stupid…”

Oh. I smile, and see Irwin Jackie Chan-ing up two columns. It’s well impressive, and inspires human pyramid attempts. The photo fever turns epidemic, and suddenly we are stopping for photographs with a random kissing German couple, and a security woman at Trafalgar Square who lets Smithy wear her hat. We make it look like we’re drinking/weeing the fountain and like Ranvir’s head is an erupting volcano. We carry on walking, and see a statue.

A statue of a naked bloke standing behind some sheep.

We smile.

And begin.



A uniform is striding towards us.

“That is a work of art! Get off it!!!”

I sigh. Pretentious. We decide to show him what real art is, and spell out the word ‘Chawn’ with people. Loads of randoms stop to ask what Chawn is, and an American man tells me about his family. Who sound lovely, by the way. And stocked up with meat. By which I mean American.

We head back to the tube for our final excursion of the day, racing up and down escalators the wrong way and hearing a heartbreaking blind busker whistle. Finally we make it to Harrods, excited to have our peasanthood rubbed in our faces. We step into the porchway and are immediately ejected by a vicious doorman in a posh suit. He’s probably the antichrist. Or a rottweiler crossed with a tory. By which I mean a tory.
“Sorry, you can’t come in. Groups need to book two days in advance.”

Pilgrim leads us outside as The Antichrist puts the other guards on high alert.

“There are some young people! Trying to get into a public place!”

I glare at him, but he’s not looking at me. I decide to carry on just in case. Pilgrim tells us to wait while he goes back and tries to win some friends and influence people. I ask the youth for their predictions as to whether or not we’ll get in.

Nobody says yes.

Pilgrim returns.

We’ll get in.


I stop glaring.

The deal is that we pair up, so I team up with Gregorius to find the most expensive thing in the shop. We walk in, and it’s like the waiting room for a dentists in Heaven. There’s a polo shirt for £5000, and a kitchen for £93,000. There’s loads of seriously shiny stuff in this shop, but I’m totally distracted by the girls that work here. They’re all ridiculously hot. I text Big Boots. Who asks me to bring some back. I tell him I would, but it’s probably not a good example for the youth. I consult Gregorius, who agrees that it would be a good… tactical… decision to ask one of these gorgeous girls about the most expensive items. I get my game face on, and approach.

“Excuse me…”

Gregorius whispers to me.

“Dan, you’ve gone red!”

“Shut up Greg!”

One Of These Gorgeous Girls tells us about a snooker table she sold for £1,000,000. Greg and I have jaws agape. The girl smiles. I smile back. She’s definitely into me.

We carry on hunting.
“I’m not saying anything, Dan; but that girl was definitely into me.”

I sigh.

“Honestly, Greg. You’re so immature.”


I arrive back at The Maynard after an evening minibus journey full of photos and laughter and sheep. Big Boots is playing Gears of War.

“Where d’you go today, Dan?”


“Did it suck?”


Big Boots pauses the game, and stares at me blankly.

“Well, yes. But the Chawn youth are amazing!”
He smiles, and passes me a control pad.


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