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1001 things not to do in London: forget the other things you shouldn’t do

Posted at 10:15 am, December 31, 2013 in Fun London


Time Out’s award winning columnist Michael Hodges has been at it again. This week’s thing not to do in London – No.1001: forget the other things you shouldn’t do

There are so many things in London you shouldn’t do that if you only don’t do one of them a week, by the end of the year you’ll have several things not to do left over. Since time is running out, this week we’ll be covering five whole things not to do in London.

Let’s start with the ‘you should really know better’ stuff…

‘White Lightning on the Rye’ might sound like an English folk song with a lyric heavily dependent on fair damsels, hey nonny nonnys and, possibly, a magical horse. But as the staff of this column discovered in May, drinking super-strength cider in a field in Peckham is actually a very bad way to spend a long Tuesday afternoon. If you must insist on alfresco tippling in south London parks, go classy: cava on Clapham Common or nothing.

Now for the ‘all too easy to do but terrifying nonetheless’…

Dry-mouthed and fearful, you awake in a dark void. Panicking, you stumble around, banging into a series of knee-high barriers. You begin to suspect you have died and gone to hell. The suspicion becomes a certainty when you fall into a bottomless pit. It’s not bottomless. When you recover from the fall, you find you’re trapped behind a strange glassy wall. You bang your fists on this wall. Immediately a keening wail assaults your ears and amber lights flash on and off, illuminating a cavernous space full of ghastly red shapes. It is only now you realise the truth: this isn’t hell, it’s Streatham bus garage. You’ve fallen asleep on the top deck again.

Then there are the times when you’re just asking for trouble…

You find yourself at one of London’s renowned West End theatres for an evening of dramatic entertainment. The bell goes. There are three minutes before the play begins. Do you go to the toilet or get another drink? Get another drink, of course. You buy the drink, take it into the auditorium and sit down. All is good. Then the play starts: it’s not bad as such but already showing a tendency to dawdle, where what you really fancied was something that bowled along and, ideally, made you laugh. Then you realise that you need a wee. Really need a wee. In ten minutes this leads to unparalleled discomfort; after an hour there is a drama in your groin so profound that if Chekhov, Strindberg, Beckett and Pinter and were here, they’d be gathered round your trousers taking notes. There is not a happy ending.

Some problems are caused by wishful thinking…

Your knuckles are raw and bleeding. You’ve tapped out every combination of secret knock you can think of on the door at the back of the premises, from a speculative knockknock- pause-knock to a tattoo of knockety-knockety-knock-knockknock. And still it won’t open. Time to accept what the infuriated man in a white paper hat holding a skewer of cubed lamb has been telling you since you entered the premises: this is not a front for a secret speakeasy. It really is just a kebab shop.

And finally, romance…

You’ve signed up to a blind date with Margaret. It’s been some time since, shall we say, you’ve known love – and in your excitement you leave your mobile on the tube. In the bar where you have arranged to meet there are at least seven women who could fit the description you’ve been given by Margaret. That is: ‘I’ve got fair hair and I drink white wine.’ It can’t, you think, be that hard to find the right woman, without offending the wrong women. Seven excruciating encounters later, you have created a general feeling in the room that you are a pervert. And several people are forcibly making that opinion known. It’s at this point Margaret arrives. Don’t say anything. Sometimes in London it’s best to walk away.

Wondering what else you shouldn’t do in London? Head here to find out.

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