This weekend, after I finished work I went to London to help my good chum Gripper to celebrate his impending age increase. This we did at the Trocadero centre. I'd never been to the Trocadero before, but all Gripper's messages had been apologising for the fact that we were meeting there. All I knew was that there was a bar and a bowling alley. What I didn't know was that they were on the top floor of what appears to be some kind of bizarre experiment where the makers of Blackpool were asked to re-create Japan in Piccadilly Circus. It's like a small town. It's like in Demolition Man where Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock go in the sewers, but clean and tall like Blade Runner. Look, it's just fucking weird, ok?
They've got clothes shops, places to eat, places to drink, an HMV, a fucking massive arcade which includes full size dodgems, a place where you can get a massage, a whole load of other shops and stalls, and I didn't even see it all! I reckon if you spoke to the right person you could get a room for the night and a selection of prostitutes to choose from should you so desire. And buy a pet shark. And enroll in the Olympic Gymnastics squad. And kill someone legally. Seriously, the Trocadero seems to have everything you could ever need. If they did accommodation, people would never leave. They'd never need to. I'm sure I saw a newsagents and I bet there's some sort of mini supermarket somewhere.
Walking in there for the first time was like being in "Lost In Translation" (Have I said that before on here about somewhere else?). Everything so fascinatingly bright and in your face. Slightly obtrusive yet strangely compelling.
Anyway, the important thing is that I met up with Gripper, James et al at the bar, we got drunk, we lost at quiz machines, we played on some games at the arcade (include those ones where you have to dance which are surprisingly fun), we had a go on the dodgems, we had good fun.
I'm pretty sure I had another million pound idea, but I can't remember what it was now. Should've written it down. If I did have one that is.
Sunday I woke up at James' and left early afternoon. I then tried to make myself spend a day in London even though I didn't really want to. What happened was that I ended up just wandering around London for ages not actually doing anything. Eventually I gave up and decided to go home, but then the subway exit at Marble Arch was closed and so I had to use a different one. There was a list of alternate exits, and one was the one by Speakers Corner. I thought to myself, "I've never been to Speaker's Corner before. I'll stop by there on my way home and see what it's like."
I ended up staying there for four and a half hours.
It's amazing! I absolutely loved it. Initially it did just seem like it should be called "Religious Nutters Corner", and a lot of it was religious, but there were people talking about many different social issues (the guy I found most interesting was a guy who had been accused of conspiring in the failed July 21st London bombings), and they would pretty much always take any questions on board and try to give an answer, or shoot down any hecklers, and people would start their own conversations about what was being talked about, which themselves would get an audience and other people participating. No conversation is private in Speaker's Corner! It's always evolving too. Every time I went to leave, there would be new crowds around new people talking about new things. It was fascinating. Fascinating too to see how people were interacting with each other. Conversations that would normally descend into chaos in almost any other social situation, were being nurtured and encouraged in this (almost) anything goes atmosphere.
I personally found it very interesting to see a Muslim and a Sikh discussing their thoughts on the path to paradise. They were genuinely interested to hear and try to understand one anothers opinion, while accepting that they did not agree with each other. It was an absolutely fascinating debate. It made me think to myself that with my experiences of Christians and Christianity, this conversation would be virtually impossible with the majority of Christians. Indeed, there had been a debate between a Christian and a Muslim a couple of hours before that which had just seemingly resorted to the Christian man shouting over his opponent coz HE CAN SHOUT LOUDER COZ HE'S GOT OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST ON HIS SIDE!! NO, DON'T TRY AND SPEAK, THERE SHALL BE NO DEBATE HERE!! He liked to mix it up every now and then by getting the Christians in the crowd to faithfully chant "YES!", "NO!" and "JESUS!!!", when he hollered a question their way. I wonder how Jesus would feel about his name being bandied about in such a gratuitous way?
"Daaaaaaad, they're doing it agaaaaaaain!"
"Well son, I'm afraid that's just the responsibility that goes with being the Messiah."
"Hmmph. I never asked to be the flippin' Messiah. It's not fair. Why did I have to go down there and have all these people..."
"Sorry, what? What was that? What were you saying there?"
"Glad to hear it. Let's keep it that way, Hmmm? Now, run along and play with John, there's a good boy. I have things to do."
Ermmmm, I've kind of lost what my point was.
Anyway, Speaker's Corner is awesome. Oh yeah, there was a guy trying to tell people that women don't deserve equality and saying that all women are manipulative and essentially evil. Some of us decided to tell him how ridiculous he was being, and why his points were invalid. I'm not saying he was wrong just because I disagreed with him, his arguments were actually ridiculous, and he had no comeback for any disagreeing voices. Gradually those of us who were arguing with him got bored and left. 10 minutes later he had no audience and looked extremely unhappy. I kind of felt sorry for him.
I can't wait to go back again. I could've easily spent a whole day there. I just found the whole thing incredible.
Right. Enough of this. I need booze. The pub is singing my name. I shall go to it like a sailor to a mermaid.
(Something screwy's going on with the text here and I can't sort it out. This computer's a right git. I miss my laptop.)