Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there


From dawn til dusk in London town
25/02/2009, 00:08
Filed under: twitchhiker project

Well. That was quite a day. There are a jillion things to tell you about (yes, that’s a real number), so much in fact that it’s all sloshing out my mind and leaking out through my ears and nose. There’s membrane everywhere. This jumper is ruined, I tell you. So this won’t be a pretty post, more of a mind-dump to bring you up-to-speed.

Last night’s hotel was dreadful, as are most hotels that enjoy Bayswater as their nearest tube station. If you have to leave the bathroom door open to sit on the toilet, consider burning the hotel down and doing future guests a favour.

First call of the day was the MASTA travel clinic, to have my much-discussed and long-avoided shots. Let me offer you this advice; if you want inoculating before you travel, plan the hell ahead. Don’t turn up five days shy of travelling, like this word monkey did, because plenty of jabs require more than one course. The nurse was firm but fair in her assessment of a disorganised fool attempting to travel the world at four weeks notice. I could only nod in agreement as she repeatedly punctured my right arm.

From Margaret Street, I left in the general direction of Soho. All of my itinerary was in my Gmail, which I could conveniently  access on my mobile. Except I couldn’t, because Gmail had crashed. Gmail. Had. Crashed. How many of us invest our online lives in Gmail without any sort of Plan B? Next to none of us, because Gmail never crashes. Except it had. Soddery.

I stumbled around until I found Incisive Media for my first interview of the day with the delightful Rosalie, which involved her looking slightly bemused as I wolfed down a salted beef and horseradish sandwich and explained the brilliance of Twitter in-between chews. Next, Dave and Nicola at Henry’s House had a present for me; a Power Monkey. Don’t listen to @danhowarth, it’s not a simian sex toy; instead, take a look at this. Gorgeous, isn’t it? Henry’s House looks after PR for Tourism New Zealand, so they were keen to hear what the blithering hell I was up to. I made with the tall tales and drank their coffee.

The tube rattled my bones awake as I headed south of the river to the Blue Fin Building near Waterloo, home of IPC Media and WebUser magazine. JJ and Ben got to grips with a tripod and filmed a vodcast of me which captured my physical state to a tee; overweight, over-tired and full of vaccines that were giving my body a bloody good shoeing:

JJ and Ben presented me with a unique WebUser compass for my travels, although I suspect they saw my tweet about the Power Monkey and quickly slapped a couple of stickers onto a bog-standard compass. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

Aljazeera English lives on the lower ground floor of an imperious building at 1 Knightsbridge at Hyde Park corner. A screenshot of my Twitter page hung in the background of a television studio as I sweated out three or four litres of fluid; the jabs were kicking seven bells out of my immune system. My right arm was very nearly dead, there was next to no sensation in my hand. At least I hadn’t thrown up into the face of a reporter, always my primary concern in combining medical procedures with press interviews.

Twitchhiker - Ajazeera

I’d finished ahead of time so sought to personally revitalise the UK economy by paying £3.90 for a pint of lager. I caught up with my mail and some tweets; beamed like a fool when I saw @_paddy_power had not only set up a page for Twitchhiker betting, but distributed a press release announcing a £1,000 donation to charity if I make it to Campbell Island within 30 days.

I sank my pint quickly, forgetting that some six hours earlier I’d been warned not to drink it, and hurried around the corner to Golden Square and into Absolute Radio. The last call of the day was the one I’d been looking forward to most. I invested 13 years of my life into my radio career, a career I adored for the most part. While I don’t really miss it as a day job, I still love being around radio studios and people who know why radio can be so mesmerizingly brilliant. I’ve listened on and off to Geoff since he was on Key 103 years ago; he’s a fizzy random bath-bomb of a presenter, not very polished and all the more personable for it. The interview was exactly as expected – a fun knockabout and Geoff bursting with enthusiasm for such a nonsensical adventure. Perfect. Cheers to Jeff and Nelson for inviting me onto the show.

Twitchhiker - Absolute Radio

So a day rammed to the rim with talk of Twitter and Twitchhiking, plus the donations for Charity: water passed 50% – over £1,500. Couldn’t ask for much more, really. Time for bed. Less than five days to go. I need my sleep.


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