Day 44 of 80 — Labyrinths

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 44: Labyrinths

I’ve spent the last few years conquering labyrinths. The confusing grid of small streets that makes up the City of London. The intricacies of tube stations, never as clearly mapped out as the tube itself. And of course, the strange geography of our museums.

How proud I felt the first time I realised I would no longer get lost in the National Gallery! I had conquered the map, understood the logic; I even knew my way around room numbers. A year later, I faced a new challenge, one that proved even more difficult: in the second year of the Blue Badge training one has to master the much feared British Museum.

Long corridors and numerous rooms, large and tiny staircases, multiple lifts, endless ways of going from one place to another. Then you’ve got to learn the accessible routes, the back entrance, the cloakroom rules. Know where the secret pizzeria is and know your way around the various cafes. Finally, as a tour guide you have to learn how to share enough of this knowledge with your group —wouldn’t want to lose anybody en route.

Each new puzzle I solve gives me a strange sense of power. I feel more local, like a true Londoner. It’s a slow conquest though, there are still many more labyrinths left to crack, more Londons to explore.

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