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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

London is cool - it's official

Lonely Planet decides London is cooler than ever

It's a funny old travel guide, The Lonely Planet. You can spend weeks in a country with more of your head stuck in the guide than just feeling around the place with your nose. When I was in Mexico years ago, we saw so many people wandering around with their noses in the backpackers bible (ourselves included) that it was a running joke with everyone else we met in the same position.

Since starting
GoingUnderground five years ago (which amazingly is on The Lonely Planet's website) and also since working near Piccadilly Circus, it's second nature (although weird) to see the town you live in as a major tourist spot. When you're popping out to get a sarnie, or simply trying to get home, you curse tourists, for getting in your way. When you're stuck on the tube you can't believe that people choose to come to London for a holiday.

A couple of years ago, London was branded by The Lonely Planet as "as a joyless, decaying place where the locals are more likely to attack you than extend a welcome". But in the 2004 edition which is published in March, London is "The place to be right now."

The Evening Standard, reporting on this, stated the obvious caveat: "Not surprisingly, transport is branded "the biggest bugbear for Londoners and the challenge Mayor Ken Livingstone is most keen to face".

Let's hope he does. But speaking of cool, when I was sitting at Glamoursmith (Hammersmith) waiting for a train home, I saw a group of young goths get off there. There were three guys dressed in black with black baggy trousers and bulky boots. An amazingly attractive girl was in the middle of them. Black hair, whiter than white complexion, sooty black eyeliner, a nose ring which suddenly made sense of nose rings, and a blood red velvet top. As they walked by me I noticed that clinging to the girl's back was a rucksack in the shape of a small black coffin.

Now that's cool.


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