Locked-Down London: The City Where Time Stood Still
Updated: Sep 27, 2020
This Monday just gone, backpack packed full of snacks and sun cream I decided to venture out into the sun-drenched afternoon with the aim of walking into central London (roughly six miles from my flat). I had immediate regret as I felt my back melting into my backpack forming one sweaty mass, but decided to power through as I’d cleared my busy furloughed schedule for this sole purpose.
The thing that struck me as odd was how on the outskirts of the city (Streatham, Brixton etc.) it seemed as if life had returned to normal - you could be forgiven for thinking you dreamt the whole pandemic thing - but as I neared the city centre and the polution levels ironically appeared to have dropped, it started to feel eerily serene and peaceful, almost as if the whole city centre was suspended in time. I even half expected tumbleweed to follow an empty crisp packet drifting in the wind. The vacant streets and boarded up pubs were a stark reminder of the current reality, and that we are definitely not back to normality despite what the bustling streets near my home might suggest.
I decided that today would be a good a day as any to explore some sights whilst on my pilgrimage, and so first of all I hit up Brixton Windmill, an old flour mill that has been at the heart of Lambeth for more than 200 years (I’m a sucker for history at the risk of being called a nerd lol). Of course you can’t pass through Brixton without visiting the David Bowie wall memorial, so of course I went and paid my respects as is customary (long live the Goblin King).
As I took the money shot of a grassy wall near Elephant & Castle I managed to drop my sunnies and proceeded to step on them like the clumsy oaf that I am (absolutely not worth the pic), this meant for the rest of the journey I had to squint through the blinding afternoon sunshine which resulted in a migraine (why am I like this..??). I then headed into the Mercato Metropolitano near Borough which is now operating as an excruciatingly expensive market selling an array of extortionately priced alcohol and fresh goods. I swiftly purchased some £3 fresh juice and hightailed outta there.
Borough Market was like a ghost town, as was London Bridge and all along the Thames as far as the eye could see. The surrealness of it all was particularly amplified when a rustic old fishing boat motored down the river playing an echoic and rather haunting version of Life of Brian’s ‘Always Look on the Brightside of Life…’ which I think was intended to be uplifting but came across and mildly creepy. Upon deciding to head back and not wanting to trek all the way back on foot I hired a Santander Cycle and went via Tower Bridge, which actually had signs of life as people sprawled out across the grassy bit next to the bridge. Nervously I braved the roads between Central and Brixton and nearly died of heat exhaustion in the process. Almost 13 miles and a bout of heatstroke later I rewarded myself with a large bottle of Desperado and a cold-ass shower.