Talk a Walk on the Tourist’s Side
Over the summer I met an American called Max who seems to know everything. I say that in part because despite living in my current flat for six months he seemed to be able to find new events, shows, bars, and restaurants around every corner. After spending a day wandering about a dog show/food festival/gig and ending up at a bar including an indoor skate park with him and his girlfriend I think I figured out his secret. Being recent newcomers to London they’d decided every weekend they’d plan an event. Something, anything, different to just entirely change the script for a full day. I realised that in losing this tourist outlook in my own area, in part due to the pressures of lockdown and in part due to the full time nature of SCA I’d missed the wonderful chaos that permeated every street.
The willingness to try every new food stand when the opportunity arose instead of just grabbing a meal deal on the run to somewhere else or catching films I’d never usually see became part of my new routine. I realised I could get three pound tickets to any film at the BFI and with membership I could get six pound tickets to most films at the Prince Charles Cinema behind Leicester Square. So I spent a week of the summer trying everything I could possibly find. I saw nine movies in four days, found three new restaurants, visited a Canadian sports bar and ended up singing sea shanties under UV lights with a house of lovely Australians at 3am in Acton.
After such a hectic week I sat down on a Sunday and took stock of things. While intensely enjoyable such a schedule was not practical in the long term given the compressed schedule of term. Instead, I decided it was the attitude that had led me that week that was the truly important takeaway rather than the events themselves. The willingness to read outside my comfort zone as a matter of course, visit exhibitions I would never have given a second thought to, even something as mundane as finding a new pop up to get lunch every few days. These little steps outside of the routine that I’d slipped into during lockdown not only brought me a refreshing change, they also pushed me to build up a far better store of experiences to draw on when I next strapped myself into the bullet train that is the SCA. The old joke about London is that anybody who lives there has never actually seen most of what a tourist visits in a short holiday and I think it holds true. We all get comfortable in our routines, no matter how esoteric they may appear, and perhaps just taking a different turn on the way home and seeing the city with the eyes of a tourist every now and then can help us all while away the increasingly grey winter months of the year. You never know you might even enjoy it.