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Old 02-19-2019, 07:19 PM   #1
lastcardcharlie
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I'm going to change the world

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Old 02-19-2019, 07:38 PM   #2
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I'm driving home, via the pub. A pint of Special and a packet of crisps. The only time of the day I feel normal. Three young women hail me towards the bottom of Sloane Street. They're smoking cigarettes.

"The Bulgari, please."
"Okay. Finish your cigarettes, if you like."

If you live in the Bulgari, you're like one of the richest people in the world. It's not far, and the price of half a cigarette is irrelevant.

If I were to talk to them, I'd say that Karl Lagerfeld died.

"Thank you."
"You're welcome."
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:33 PM   #3
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Re: I'm going to change the world

An American gentleman hails me on the Mall.

"Claridges hotel, please."

Since two druggy girl tramps hijacked the cab last Friday, I've become more vigilant.

"We want to go to Pimlico chemists, and then we want to go to South Lambeth Road."

Since they're already in the cab, and obviously not going to pay me, I decide to just do it for free, and be more careful about keeping the doors locked in future. But they start complaining.

"Can you go in the other lane, boss. Boss, can you go in the other lane?"

I lose my temper and, to my surprise, they get out immediately, and then vanish into thin air.

"I'll stab you up, you little ****."

But no, this really is a guest of Claridges.

We arrive, and his card doesn't work, about a dozen times.

"You've got the record, sir."

"Hahaha, I've got the record."

Eventually, it works.

"I bet you don't get this kind of service in Claridges."

"Hahaha."
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:45 PM   #4
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Re: I'm going to change the world

The Smithfield Cafe sure looks the part.

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1719972

It's open 24/5, to accommodate the ungodly hours worked by wholesale meat traders. Cab drivers seem to like it. It's peaceful round there.

My order of a white coffee is interpreted, correctly, as what the menu describes as normal coffee, i.e. instant coffee. Fine. I like drinking **** and liking it.

Smithfield is old. Oldest church, oldest market, oldest house. Somewhere to go when, like today, the roads are jammed and you can barely move. The illusion of movement as progress is surely universal, from the cradle onwards.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smithfield,_London
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:23 PM   #5
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Re: I'm going to change the world

St Paul's. The ultimate symbol of London. So obvious it's too obvious. You could put it in the middle of Venice and it would fit.

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks...n-canal-n06213
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:28 PM   #6
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Re: I'm going to change the world

Broadway Market, adjacent to London Fields, is packed. Queues in all the themed cafes and bars, and stalls selling confit duck burgers and organic candles. Hipster paradise on an extraordinarily sunny February Saturday. Better than nothing, I suppose.

In contrast, F. Cooke Pie & Mash is nearly empty. No queue, no ****ing about waiting for your food, and half the price.

I have been brought to Hackney by a passenger from London Bridge Station, but to an unfashionable part.

"You're not going to gentrify this area, are you, sir?"

"Hahaha, it might be going that way. But I've lived here for 15 years."

"That's different, then."

"Yes, but I'm not one of the real locals."

"You're not Harold Pinter."

"Hahaha."
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:47 PM   #7
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Re: I'm going to change the world

Name dropping does little to nothing for your aura Lastcard. This is America. We fought a revolutionary war over this very thing.


I thought Bulgari would be the name of an Italian Sports Car. I was wrong.

You distain posh places? Shameful behavior I submit, if true.

The lovely and easy going Germans dropped a bomb on (or at least near) St. Paul's. Did some damage I think but you antsy Brits still survived to die another day.


You need to have a handgun lastcard and know how to use it well. I suggest a Springfield 1911 (.45 Auto) - the lead is slow moving but packs a nasty punch. Always aim for the body - head shots are too messy and you would probably miss anyway.

Nice work - love your blog.

Also, the roads are always jammed - it is ****ing London for Christ's sake!

Last edited by Zeno; 02-23-2019 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Also............
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Old 02-24-2019, 09:16 AM   #8
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I did not understand your comments about name-dropping, Zeno, and am unsure whether I disdain posh places. I consider myself to be increasingly a mere observer, if that's any help.

I would like to have a gun, but only posh aristocrats like Lord North are allowed to carry them here, in order to kill pheasants and vermin. Please arrange to have one delivered to me via the dark web. I'll pay any price within reason.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_North_Street
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Old 02-24-2019, 08:15 PM   #9
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Re: I'm going to change the world

Vermin need killing. Too many of them around. I'll get a gun to you someday, somehow. Meanwhile, always have a sharp eye on all mirrors, keep your nose clean, and say as little as possible. Or at least only say what is worth saying - like in a Raymond Chandler novel.

I rode in a London cab once, forget if I left a tip. Don't remember the protocol. Someone else may have paid so the responsibility was on them if so.
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Old 02-25-2019, 05:31 PM   #10
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I like the ones who pay with high denomination banknotes, and absent-mindedly throw you whatever coins are in the change. Cards and coins are an inconvenience in their world.

Half-term is over, and I am back teaching mathematics part-time in Hounslow. Perhaps the most uniformly suburban of all London suburbs. Low grade, pre-WW2 housing as far as the eye can see. I have no idea what economic forces led to such rapid, post-WW1 expansion of London. My grandparents' house in Waltham Cross was exactly the same, and they moved down from the North during the 1930s Depression is all I know.

Beyond is Heathrow airport, which finds much of its vicinity outdated and redundant. Disused buildings, wasteland, cracked side roads traversed only by airport minions. Once futuristic hotels that look like something out of Thunderbirds. Generating a timewarp all around it in a way that only a major airport can do.
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Old 02-25-2019, 07:58 PM   #11
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I took the train to London from Gatwick Airport and zoomed through what looked like industrial wasteland that morphed into dead zones interspersed with industrial housing blocks, with occasional greenery - just for the irony.

That you continue to teach mathematics shows a healthy regard for improving the world, or at least some of the minds that occupy the world. I wouldn't do that myself, but I have an honest respect for those that do. Do you get to toss a brick at unruly students?
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:55 PM   #12
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I also respect teachers, for their hard work and professionalism. Some end up talking to adults like they talk to children. Classroom teaching is a tough job, which I couldn't handle, although things could have gone differently. School is not solely academic, it is also about making people conform. Big topic.

I have been teaching this Hounslow student for a while, and continue so as not let him down. I have been trying to get out of teaching for a while, but faced with the prospect of driving a taxi for the rest of my working life, I am having second thoughts.

This student is polite but uniquely exasperating. Diagnosed with various mental disorders, his brain seems frequently to go haywire, for reasons that nobody understands, including him and his nice, well-educated parents.

(x^5)^3 = (x^5)*(x^5)*(x^5) = (x*x*x*x*x)*(x*x*x*x*x)*(x*x*x*x*x) = x^15. It is not equal to x^8.

He nods politely.

I'VE TOLD YOU A MILLION ****ING TIMES.

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Old 02-27-2019, 10:50 AM   #13
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I am in the taxi queue at King's Cross, wondering whether St Pancras station is the largest Victorian building in London. It sure extends back a long way along Pancras Road, and I can't think of a larger one.

The queue serves two major termini, and is long but fast-moving. I reach the front, a greet a young guy.

"Do you know The Lamb pub? I think it's on Lambs Conduit Street."

"Yessir."

Judd Street would be perfect for this, but Camden Council have recently closed it to all but cyclists. In my annoyance, I manage to mess up the only remaining reasonable route. Amateurish.

"I'm very sorry, sir, I've taken a wrong turning. I'll charge you just what's on the meter now, and you can have the rest of the journey for free."

He is agitated.

"Yeah, but I'm supposed to be meeting my girlfriend, and I'm late already."

I try to be placatory by saying something interesting.

"It's a beautiful pub, The Lamb. They've got those snob mirrors in there. Do you know about them?"

He perks up.

"No?"

"They're frosted glass mirrors above the bar, on hinges, so that well-to-do drinkers can remain anonymous if they choose."

Genuine interest.

"Tell your girlfriend that, and she'll forgive you. And then you'll forgive me."

He doesn't quite buy it, but tells me something that I didn't know.

"Charles Dickens used to drink there."

This is very likely true, as his house, now the Dickens Museum, is nearby, and he liked to get out and about.

We arrive, and even the outside of the pub is overcrowded with after-work drinkers. You have to catch good pubs at the right times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snob_screen
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Old 02-28-2019, 10:00 PM   #14
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I appear to have become trapped in Shoreditch at closing time, ferrying drunks between bars and clubs. So I turn the For Hire light off temporarily and head down to the City, in search of a passenger who might just pay me to drive in the direction of home.

A better class of passenger, like the Professor of Public Health whom I encountered earlier. An older, American gentleman who ran across the street to get to me.

"Marble Arch, please. Oxford bus stand."

We set off.

"Wait, would you drive me to Oxford? How much would that cost?"

I'm not sure. A lot. He is delirious, but then gets quick a phone call. Panic over.

"It's okay. Just take me to Flaxman Terrace."

Which is not far, but I go in the wrong direction. Not entirely my fault, as he's asked to go to three different locations in as many minutes. He recognizes this, and makes to get out and walk, while pushing too much money towards me.

"Sir, relax. Let me drive you to Flaxman Terrace, and for no extra charge. It's really not a problem."

We get talking. As a Professor of Public Health, he assures me that it has been statistically proven that closing roads to cars promotes the use of cycles.
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Old 03-02-2019, 09:07 PM   #15
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I'm soft. Simple. Too honest. Maybe it's nurture, or maybe I've figured out a stable form of universal existence from first principles.

It cuts both ways. People intuit it and overpay me, despite my protests to the contrary. Tonight has been to and fro like that, and I am at Leicester Square waiting for one final job. Two girls approach.

"Do you you know where Black Prince Road is?"

She is unaggressive and her accent is utterly authentic. Black Prince Road is in a good direction, but it's all council estates. These girls belong on the bus.

We arrive, and their card doesn't work, and they've only got a fiver.

"Just give me a fiver, then."

No problem. It would have been easy to pay nothing.
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Old 03-03-2019, 02:08 PM   #16
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Re: I'm going to change the world

A fiver buys you at least one good pint, Right?
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:09 PM   #17
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Re: I'm going to change the world

Precisely.

In my mind, it is quiet tonight. In reality, one is dealing directly with a Poisson distribution.

Two artsy-type groups are bonding in the pub, not far from the Saatchi Gallery. Homelessness is bad.

Some reg walks in and orders a Guinness and Blackcurrant. Then a discussion about Bond movies with the barman and me. This is not what's supposed to be happening.
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Old 03-07-2019, 06:10 PM   #18
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I am informed by a member of the military that we are still at war with Russia. If so, I presume that's a mere technicality. History is not my strong suit. He describes everything ironically as "cracking", and has a happy-go-lucky persona that perhaps only the young carrying a reasonable risk of serious injury or death can have.

I took a couple to a reception at the Sri Lankan High Commissioner's official residence the other week, and my driving was presidential as hell. This I have been practising, so that I can do it all the time by muscle memory. It is what people want. It is what I want. Less haste, more speed. Flunkies wearing white gloves waiting to attend to their every need on arrival. So much so that they almost forgot to pay me.

I prefer people to tell me which way to go, but it pisses me off when they want me to listen to their computer telling me. Some joker in a bandana tonight thinks I need help with how to go from the Hari hotel to Kensington High Street. I assure him otherwise, but he decides to seek alternative transportation. Fine. I am in the wrong. I will handle it better next time. The customer is always right.
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Old 03-08-2019, 08:33 PM   #19
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Re: I'm going to change the world

By some quirk, it is rarely correct to use Tower Bridge, and this evening I've used it twice. If incorrectly, not terribly so. It is an iconic London building for sure.

In between, I pick up a bedraggled, tieless guy in the Bermondsey rain. Confused, disoriented, genuinely lost. A rare but unmistakable sensation. It has happened to me in Venice and in rural Ireland. You are going round in circles, coming across the same, unhelpful landmarks over again. You are lost.

"Queen Elizabeth Street, mate. I've been looking for it for an hour. The bus driver told me it was other way. It's a blue, circular building, with a statue of a horse in the middle of the road, if that makes any sense at all. I've only got a tenner on me, if that's okay?"

"Don't worry, sir. It sounds like one of those dreams where you're trying to get somewhere and you can't."

I happen to take him straight there. It's only a fiver. I give him a note change because I don't expect tips.

"Now I can have dinner." he says. "I'm hungry."
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Old 03-09-2019, 07:32 AM   #20
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Re: I'm going to change the world

subbed

Nice seeing so many references to London.
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Old 03-09-2019, 08:26 PM   #21
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Re: I'm going to change the world

Pure London. Pure essence of distilled London.

Maureen's pie and mash on Chrisp Street Market in Poplar is good food. I end up in Greenwich. St Alfege church is a fine Hawksmoor. A trio of highly-skilled musicians is finishing a recital there. One of them is playing the lute. I had never heard of the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul in the Old Royal Naval College, but it is a stunning interior. Fabulously understated. Proof that the Empire was sanctioned by God.

https://www.ornc.org/chapel#IdX4lEdkymWVctQK.97

Later, a fight breaks out in the back of the cab, which continues onto the street. They lack even the basic grace or wit to close the door behind them. It's good, though, because I instead get to take some civilized people to Leinster Gardens. I show them the fake houses, which they like and find interesting. It is interesting.

http://www.urban75.org/blog/the-fake...ter-london-w2/

A busker is playing a song written by a genius in the Greenwich foot tunnel. A narrow, Victorian tunnel underneath the Thames, which has powerful acoustics.

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Old 03-10-2019, 03:15 PM   #22
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Re: I'm going to change the world

The Ghost of Dali haunts London Tunnels:


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Old 03-10-2019, 04:18 PM   #23
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Re: I'm going to change the world

I know of the legend of the white hart that was rumoured to appear in London tube tunnels, and which the White Hart pub on Mile End Road was named after...but not Dali in London.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:20 PM   #24
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Re: I'm going to change the world

Quote:
Originally Posted by lastcardcharlie View Post
By some quirk, it is rarely correct to use Tower Bridge, and this evening I've used it twice. If incorrectly, not terribly so. It is an iconic London building for sure.



In between, I pick up a bedraggled, tieless guy in the Bermondsey rain. Confused, disoriented, genuinely lost. A rare but unmistakable sensation. It has happened to me in Venice and in rural Ireland. You are going round in circles, coming across the same, unhelpful landmarks over again. You are lost.



"Queen Elizabeth Street, mate. I've been looking for it for an hour. The bus driver told me it was other way. It's a blue, circular building, with a statue of a horse in the middle of the road, if that makes any sense at all. I've only got a tenner on me, if that's okay?"



"Don't worry, sir. It sounds like one of those dreams where you're trying to get somewhere and you can't."



I happen to take him straight there. It's only a fiver. I give him a note change because I don't expect tips.



"Now I can have dinner." he says. "I'm hungry."


Solid.
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Old 03-11-2019, 04:22 PM   #25
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Re: I'm going to change the world

Thanks for the comments.

I pick up an American family near Buckingham Palace. They are explaining the concept of monarchy to their children. One of these days, I'm going to start ranting nonsense at unsuspecting tourists.

"Queen Camilla? You're having a laugh, aren't you? Never in a million years, mate. Princess Anne's the only one of them who does any work..."

I wouldn't be able to pull it off, however.

"The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad." -- Salvador Dali
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