In which we have a day out

On a hot summer day, there’s only one thing to, really: find somewhere dark to hide from it. So, I spent yesterday in the depths of London Below, or as close at least I’ve ever come to it. I was in the catacombs beneath London Bridge station, at a kind of floating market.*

It wasn’t really underground, of course. When the first railway into London was built, it was built as an elevated railway, entirely on a viaduct. Ever since, the arches and voids beneath the track have been rented out by the railway company, to dodgy car mechanics, mysterious fly-by-night businesses,** and nightclubs and event venues such as the one I visited yesterday, which was full of interesting-looking people selling interesting items, and giving talks on health and safety.

If there’s one thing that shocks and disgusts me, incidentally, it’s the prices in London nightclubs. The venue security staff did very thorough bag searches – not for security, though, but to prevent anyone bringing their own drinks in. Not just booze, but anything – they slowly built up a big pile of confiscated water bottles, bought as advised by constant announcements on every Tube station. Because otherwise, they would never have been able to sell 330ml bottles of water for a ridiculous £2.50. We sneaked out quickly to a nearby Starbucks whenever we wanted a drink – and nicked the Starbucks ashtrays to bring back with us, too, because the club didn’t have any of those either.

* It wasn’t actually bobbing up and down, of course. This paragraph will make more sense if you’ve ever read Neil Gaiman‘s Neverwhere.

** When the railway was first built the company tried to rent some out as houses, before discovering that nobody wanted to live in them.

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