Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, April 06, 2012

Out and about on Good Friday

If one is intent on visiting the Tower of London, there is in theory a quite simple way of obtaining a hefty discount on the admission cost.  This involves purchasing an overland train ticket for transportation to the venue on the day of entry, filling in a small form, providing photographic ID, and politely declining to pay the "voluntary" donation fee tagged to the ticket price which would go some way towards offsetting the cost of the rail tickets.  

If one doesn't live within cooee of an overland rail station, there are no trains going anywhere near the chosen attraction and it's Good Friday, a day when in London life slows to something akin to a speeding bus going over a very small speed bump, the simple method outlined above becomes more convoluted.

Undeterred, having managed to obtain said tickets and in the process wangling a hefty £40 discount for our little troupe, we eventually found ourselves outside the Tower of London, where the guide books tell us two million people each year queue to see the crown jewels and other less savoury artefacts from its gruesome past.

The guidebooks may have omitted to mention that the majority of those two million people visit the place on Good Friday, having first queued at Paddington station to obtain their discount vouchers, this does place an enormous pressure on those visiting the ancient complex to "move along please, move along.  Thank you".

So much pressure to "move along" is exerted while viewing the actual jewels that one is actually conveyed on a moving walkway, travelling even faster than the bus mentioned earlier.  There would be no time for photographs even if the use of a camera were allowed.

After a few hours of jostling in a crowd which felt at times as though we were in sideshow alley at the Ekka on "People's Day", we retired to the calm of one of Julian's lunch time haunts, the Roman wall that once formed part of the fortification of the city of London.    The remnants of the wall stand in the very shadow of the Tower, amid and through modern structures, standing silently almost unnoticed.

The wall is more "our" kind of "attraction", of the kind which lie waiting to be rediscovered, offering time to contemplate the contrasts between now and then, to wonder what might have been or might be in the future.   The openings in them give glimpses of other eras, but there is no explanation needed from the audio guide, no grating explanations read loudly from a newly purchased guidebook.

We can happily report that once again we've "visited" the Roman Wall, and finally after all these years that we've "done" the Tower of London.

While mentally scrambling over the exposed surfaces of the wall, it occurred that there was an obtuse connection to Easter as well.  After all, if it wasn't for the Romans…..

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