I ventured into London yesterday for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown and its subsequent lifting.
London always looks great when the sun is shining and I was interested to see what it was like without so many people around.
While life has bounced back to normal in the ‘burbs it hasn’t in central London. I got out at Waterloo, wandered through Southbank and across the Thames and hardly saw a soul.
There was a Big Issue dude wandering the stretch between the station and Southbank, wearing a visor and offering card payment through a wireless card reader, but he was pretty much it. Even the lions in Trafalgar Square sat unmolested. It’s the first week of summer holidays here, so you’d expect them to be covered in kids.
Chinatown was empty except for one or two people buying buns from a bakery selling takeaway. A few people sat out drinking coffee on pavement tables in Soho. The busiest place was tiny Soho Square Gardens where construction workers ignored social distancing signs to eat their lunches on benches or play table tennis on the concrete tables there.
Oxford Street was busier, but only just.
Although it was lunch time on a weekday London felt like a Sunday from my childhood. Back when most shops were closed and when if you saw someone walking through a deserted shopping precinct, you wondered where they were going.
I heard a few foreign voices – tourists from Germany, Scandinavia, Italy and France – and I wondered what they were doing in London when most of the restaurants, theatres and museums are still closed.
Then I walked past Primark and I saw the wheelie bag tourists lining up to sanitize their hands and it all began to make sense.