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Dearest Sound Guides,

I feel that you are uncouth to the point of savagery and it is with great displeasure that I must deal with you directly. However, I have recently won a wager wherein a great deal of my honour is at stake and I would humbly request that you 'post' my ramblings. It is vital to my success that the journal of my weekend in London be displayed upon your little forum.

I was drinking at the reform club some weeks past when an intolerable friend of mind named Edgar came in proclaiming that he was a 'Pioneer of Immersive Travel' I felt instinctively that he was wrong. When I questioned him at length he raved about the Soundguides website and I agreed to peruse the pages myself. I came across a set of challenges that concerned my own dear London.

At this point the young fellow who leered over my shoulder like a spasming moonchild, began a most insensitive attack on my personality. He claimed that I would not nor could not complete the challenges displayed on the site. I knew at once that we must enter into a wager of honour.

So my friends, that is how I found myself embarking upon the following misadventure. I left the reform club having lost a significant part of my savings playing whist and returned to my flat in Surbiton. I immediately awoke my manservant Brenda and instructed her to pack several very specific changes of attire. I myself booked us in to a youth hostel very near to some expensive London hotels. We left that very night, it was a Friday and I intended to start early.

It was my intention to provide the Soundguides website with irrefutable evidence that I had complete every last challenge they could offer in one weekend and a few extras of my own devision for flair. The conditions of the wager were clear. If I won the title of PIT Edgar would leave London at once for a life in the mining communities of the North. He would also give me ten thousand pounds sterling. If I lost he was allowed to call me by the name of Snotty Wotty Botts for an entire month.

Brenda and I rose at the crack of dawn and convened in the nearest café. There we took a breakfast of several varieties of fried pig meats, milky tea and a small mountain of white bread toast drenched in salted butter. We each read a copy of a newspaper, Brenda took 'The Sun' and I took 'The Times'.

As we left the establishment a homeless gentleman sold us a magazine known as 'The Big issue' I stuffed it into Brenda's luggage as we walked on. Our fist port of call was Waterloo station. I hailed a black cab from the corner. As we sat down I asked the cabbie what persons of note he had recently carried. His reply lasted some time. It seemed that her from All Saints was incredibly down to earth in spite of the dizzying magnitude of her celebrity.

At Waterloo we headed straight for the tube station and with the use of a zoom camera I instructed Brenda to capture photographs of the mice that scurried around the tracks. It was still early and already we had achieved four of our objectives. Our spirits were high.

We took the tube to Oxford road and when we arrived I found a quiet corner of the station to change into the attire of the popular comedy movie character Austen Powers. From there we walked to nearby Carnaby street and embarked upon ritual self humiliation. Carnaby street had apparently been the focal point of London's swinging sixties. I danced down the street in the manner of a 1960's libertine while Brenda screamed and chased me. I felt strangely joyful.

From Caranby street we took a large red bus and climbed to the top floor. Brenda elbowed a young family out of the front seats so that I could sit up front and survey London as we travelled. I became uncharacteristically excited and pretended that I was driving the bus with an invisible steering wheel.

We arrived at Hyde Park corner. Our mission here was simple yet horrifying. It was London in springtime and the temperatures peaked and a cheerful 12 celcius. Yet we were here to swim. We headed straight for the bathing area of the Serpentine lake and I stripped manfully down to my bathing pantaloons. I steeled myself for the dive for ten minutes or so until Brenda kicked me in the back of my knees and I tumbled in. I managed to swim a length before being dragged out by a guard. There was some applause. I was elated by the encouragement and dressed quickly.

We traversed Hyde Park for the infamous Speakers Corner. As we arrived Brenda acquired a soapbox from a smaller speaker with the use of her ample arm strength. I arose to address my people and struck a pose of grand leadership. I took the speech we had downloaded from your company and began. My friends! I exclaimed. Let us make disco and not war! There were murmers of assent among the common folk. I continued on this theme for ten minutes and was received tolerantly well.

Time was marching on and there was much still to cover. Fortunately one of our missions involved free coffee so we leapt at the opportunity to weave elevenses into our itinerary. We located a clothing boutique of enormous price tags and wide acclaim and entered with an air of wild abandon. We swaggered to the counter and I swore loudly before exclaiming to the staff that I had to attend the stag night of an Arab Prince that very night and had to be immediately costumed in the finest fabrics known to humanity. Several of the languid clerks sidled off to bring me a selection of suits while one busied himself preparing fresh coffee for Brenda and myself. I led these young men and women of fashion a merry dance before announcing an hour later that the clothing here was little better than rags and I couldn't afford it anyway. Needless to say we ran.

We had to fit another point in before taking lunch that much was clear. And so it was that I posed for a photograph dressed as the fictional spy James Bond in front of the MI6 building. We narrowly escaped arrest.

Lunch came and we ate fish and chips soaked in vinegar and layered in salt. Mashed peas of an unusually virulent green were also on the menu. We had to buy our own newspaper to wrap it in as the vendor claimed the traditional practice of doing so had fallen into disuse.

As Brenda and I crossed a busy road eating noisily we were nearly run over by a speeding black cab. This was an ideal opportunity to score yet another mission complete point. I raised my arm and presented my two fingers, palm facing towards me. I flicked the V's. It was a glorious moment. Until the driver reappeared at the next corner and punched me through the open window of his cab

Our first port of call in the afternoon was Buckingham Palace. We sought out one of the royal guard and made our move. In an effort to make the fellow lose his composure and perhaps even smile we pulled grotesque faces. It did not work. Plan b was put into effect. I instructed Brenda to pull a moonie at the fellow. Needless to say we narrowly escaped arrest.

Ah but the day was rapidly becoming a complete success. We were excited, we felt somehow noble, an expression of the vigour of youth, a living act of poetry, a new cry of the bohemian asthetete was being heard this day in Old London. And it was us. We were the protagonists of history at last.

We almost ran to Trafalgar Square. And there we could have been witnessed gaily kicking water at one another on the fountains. There we clambered upon the regal lions as had so many bright soul before us.

There was one last act to perform before the business of the evening. We hurried to the South Bank. We gained entrance to the Turbine Hall of the Tate modern and found ourselves surrounded by white boxes piled high. I stood in the middle alone and struck a tortured pose of introspection. Occasionally I whined and cried a little. When there some two dozen men and women in the hall perusing the work I cried aloud.

"AAAAARRRGGGHH. IT CONFRONTS ME AND DARES ME TO DEFINE MYSELF YET I AM AFRAID!"

Then we ran.

As the sunset on old father Thames I looked down the river towards the east from the millennium bridge and indeed shed a few tears. Brenda smoked a large Cuban. I felt as if a great weight had been lifted. The dust had been blown from my eyes and I saw London again as if for the first time. I was overwhelmed by her beauty.

But on! On! Merciless time shook us from our revery. We took the ill advised and recklessly courageous move of heading East in London at nightfall.

We arrived at the Ten Bells pub in Spitalfields. Taking a stool at the bar I set about drinking in the manner of a true Londoner. I took six pints of London Pride and Brenda, who is always wary of malaria, took seventeen drafts of London Dry Gin mixed with Tonics. Come time for the closing bell to ring we were midway through a chorus of cockney folk song 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon' The landlord ushered us away.

We realised as is often the case that we had not dined. Fortunately we had purchased a snack of Jellied Eels earlier that Brenda produced from her bag. We sat like vagrants on the street and wolfed down the sickening mush. Brenda begged me to order a taxi all the way home to Surbiton but I insisted on the final task.

Brenda dressed as a nineteenth century lady of the night while I kept look out. We proceeded to the street where one of Jack the Rippers unfortunates had fallen. Brenda lay in the gutter as if dead while a stood over her wearing a top hat. We waited in this position for some time until a group of youngsters returning home from a nearby nightclub caught sight of us.

Needless to say I was arrested. Brenda had fallen asleep and was unable to explain that my intentions were not as they seemed. But as I sat in the back of the armoured police vehicle I smiled a triumphant smile. I felt certain that the wager was mine. But more than that. I felt that I had seen the very soul of London. That I had met my city face to face and toe to toe. I had awakened something in myself that i had thought long since dead. It seemed to me then that this was only the beginning that I could rise like the fire bird of ancient myth like london had herself in 1667. It was then that I passed out.

Benjamin Spelk




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