Time Out’s award winning columnist Michael Hodges has been at it again. This week’s thing not to do in London – No 55: hit on people at the British Library.
Feeling stressed out? So tightly wound up that your bumhole is within scratching distance of your ear? Are you ready to fall to your knees in the street and cry: ‘Make it stop! Make it stop! Please, please, please, someone make it stop!’
Of course you are. This is London, and if you weren’t feeling that way, you’d have to ask yourself what you were doing here in the first place. London isn’t for relaxing in. It’s for doing stuff that matters, for achieving things regardless of the psychological price. Nonetheless, sometimes it can all get a little too much.
Say you’re rushing down Euston Road at lunchtime, like I am right now. So far the morning has not been utterly disastrous. I am, after all, still alive. But I have already contrived to drop my mobile on to the tube track where, impressively, it balanced just long enough for the next train to run directly over it. I’ve also upended a tub of 100 percent natural granola and yoghurt over my crotch, where it has left a 100 percent natural damp patch which sticks to my leg and suggests I don’t have control of my bladder. And now, what should be Euston Road’s wide, roomy pavement is filled entirely with thousands of people going in the opposite direction to me as if there is a subterranean control room in this city whose staff are dedicated 24/7 to thwarting my attempts to travel. (What, they’ve got one for you as well?)
But just as the chaos and despair threaten to engulf me, I glimpse the figure of a naked man through an ironwork screen. Bending over on a stone plinth and wielding a giant protractor, he seems to beckon me in. So I walk towards him and find he overlooks a quiet garden only a few feet away from the clamour and noise of one of London’s busiest streets. The centrepiece of this garden is a circular brick wall which encloses a stone bench. A series of abstract stone sculptures are balanced on the top of the wall. This, I read, is the British Library piazza. The naked man is Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s bronze sculpture of Sir Isaac Newton based on a painting by William Blake. The abstract stone sculptures are a series called ‘Planets’ by Antony Gormley. The space is empty apart from one woman sitting on the stone bench.
Not wanting to spoil her enjoyment, I sit as far away from the woman as I can. Which, because this is a circle, is exactly opposite her. Ignoring her, I focus on one of the stones, and I immediately begin to unwind. Shaking the tension out of my neck and shoulders, I open my mouth and take big deep breaths until I feel my pulse slow, and for the first time in weeks I begin to feel calm.
This is all a mistake.
If you are staring intensely at a stone above someone’s head, it can appear to the person below the stone that you’re staring intensely at them. If you are staring intensely while shaking your head and apparently gasping for breath, it can look worse; even more so if you’re simultaneously tugging at a wet crotch.
The quiet of the garden is broken by disturbed voices. A man has joined the woman. She talks to the man and gestures towards me. It is not a ‘look who’s here, shall we say hello?’ gesture. The man scowls at me and says loudly, ‘No one puts up with this any more. Harassment isn’t on.’ It’s a sentiment I utterly agree with, but this doesn’t stop him striding across the circle towards me. I just about have time to take in Sir Isaac’s bronze bumhole before reaching the safety of chaos and despair.
Read more of Michael’s many mishaps and malaises