Central London either side of New Year is a ghost town – like descriptions of the City in Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year (without people dropping dead in the street).

One turn took me away from the few stragglers around Embankment Station and into a deserted John Adam Street, then drawn up George Court.


The newly refurbished Adelphi looks impressive from the front but round the rear you look into bare office floors with cables dangling from the ceiling – an overestimation of the desire for top-price floorspace in the centre of town. Would serve much better as a skate park.

I follow the steps at the end of Adelphi Terrace down to the Embankment but then quickly back up Carting Lane where a hotel worker  sucks on a fag staring into the night.


In Sicilian Avenue I peruse the clothes in the window of the classic old school menswear shop and make plans to return to try on a smart overcoat I see hanging next to a Harris tweed jacket. I’ve been schlepping around in various green waterproof jackets now for around 10 years – perhaps it’s time to smarten myself up. Or is that just the ambience of Sicilian Avenue getting to me.

The authentic Italian trattoria at the end of Lambs Conduit Street is nearly full – a rare burst of life. I look through the window and am transported to Rome or Paris (oddly – restaurant = France somewhere in my mind).

Everything is closed on Theobalds Road. On Grays Inn Road I start to fantasize about being in a northern suburb – Muswell Hill perhaps but resist the urge to jump on a bus – the walk isn’t done yet.

Amen Corner. Knightrider Street. The darkness of the City ahead viewed from the crest of Ludgate Hill is too foreboding.

Beside St. Paul’s there is the strong smell of woodsmoke – I’m transported back to Italy, to the hills.

3 hours walking around empty streets in the drizzle – the thing I came here looking for starts to weigh me down. I long for the cosy outer settlements, the tube is pulling me. 25 minutes in a pod delivered to the convivial atmosphere of a Sunday night Weatherspoons in Leytonstone.

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