Saturday, January 28, 2012

Walk The Lines by Mark Mason - A Review

The author walked the “London Underground overground”, as it is said in the subtitle. He “walked the lines” making his way on foot from one Tube station to the next following the respective lines. During this journey he met interesting people like a female cabby (black cab driver) apprentice and a “mind the gap” voice, and overheared everyday conversation. He also shares a lot of historical facts on buildings or areas he has been walking through. The walks include a night walk and one in deep winter shortly before Christmas.

The reader literally walks the streets with the author, seeing what he sees and hearing what he hears – all of course through the “filter” of the author’s eyes and ears, but nevertheless one gets a very good impression of the many different faces of the megacity and its people.

“Walk the Lines” is a real treat for everyone who loves London – not only the parts which tourists usually get to see, but all of it. As a “Londoner at heart” I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, giving me a little of the happy London feeling I miss so much during most of the time of my life, as I’m living far away and cannot visit the town even nearly as often as I would like (a London Tube station named “Stetten am kalten Markt” will sadly never become real and even the next airport is about 100 kilometres away from our remote little place in the south of Baden-Wuerttemberg). It was a good remedy for the symptoms of my londonitis – that is what I call the “illness” which makes me want to move to London and stay there for the rest of my earthly life. I think the londonitis comes from something one of the people the author talked to mentioned - that London was “full of misfits from all over the world … because [there] they can be themselves”. This was exactly my experience when I was studying at a college in London in 1987 / 88 (one of the best years of my life). I dressed in a way which would have taken me right into the newspaper or the nuthouse in the small town I came from – and even more in the village I’m living in now. In London nobody even looked at me because of that and I felt very safe in the anonymity.

The book made me want to do the same as the author did – walk (almost) all parts of London once in my life. On a rating of one to five stars this book gets six from me ;)

For the photo I wrapped it in my tubeline scarf (a scarf in the colours of the Tube lines), the pattern of which can be found in Lauren O’Farrell’s book “Stitch London”, another book for the London fan.

1 comment:

@AboutLondon said...

Wonderful. If I hadn't already read the book I'd be rushing out to buy it as you're very persuasive!