Say you’ve got just one day in London. Where do you spend it? I was presented with this question on Friday night. I was out with some friends at the Chandos, just off Trafalgar Square (pronounced with a small ‘o’, not to rhyme with Nando’s). This is a Sam Smith’s pub, and I love Sam Smith’ses because they tend to be uncompromisingly Victorian (to use George Orwell’s phrase) and also because they’re really cheap. The crowd tends to be pretty mixed.
Being off Trafalgar Square, the Chandos gets quite a lot of tourist traffic, and so it was that we found ourselves chatting to three guys in their early twenties from Chicago who were over for four days. They asked where, if one only has a short time in the capital, good times are to be had.
I suggested Camden. Sure, it’s a bit touristy, but it’s also where a hell of a lot of Londoners go. Plus it’s got that whole indie vibe and you can spend a day and a night there. In any case, it’s less touristy than other places.
One of them came up a bit later and asked where they could go within walking distance after the pub shut, to get some more drinks and meet birds. I suggested Soho and also that they don’t use the term “birds” if they’re south of Birmingham. I recommended some bars and also warned him that if anyone came up to him and offered him anything, no matter how great it sounded, he should say no. He thanked us and said goodbye. A few minutes later his friends came up and asked if we’d seen him anywhere. Oops. I’d just sent a drunk who didn’t know the city towards Soho on his own after midnight. Damn.
Ah well. I’m sure it was a fortifying experience for all concerned.
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