It is said that if you hang around Piccadilly Circus for long enough, the entire world will pass you by. In my day, working the Dilly was popular with rent boys, so hanging around could get you arrested. When we passed by it was a convenient place to convene for those taking part in the Extinction Rebellion demonstration that coincided with our visit. At the time, the circus was ringed by brightly painted lions. This animal trail malarky has really got out of hand. Apparently the King of the Jungle on his Tusk Lion Trail can be spotted all over town.
Our last night in London was a Soho pub crawl reminiscent of the good old days. Thank God we were staying local so we only needed to stagger back to our pit. Next day, headache’d and hungover, we rode the bus to Liverpool Street Station for our train back to Norwich. The Tube would have been quicker, but nothing can beat the top deck of a London bus for a bit of sightseeing. We got to the station early, so it was a spot of overpriced lunch and a hair of the dog in nearby Spitalfields. The area is graced with a series of bronze statues, mostly of cutesy baby elephants – the Herd of Hope – to highlight the plight of orphaned calves in the wild.
But the most evocative sculpture on display is of a boatload of refugees. It’s intended to reflect the history of Spitalfields as a haven for migrants down the centuries. Ironic really. These days the area is mostly given over to plush offices and fancy eateries – not a damp slum, cold-water tenement or raggéd refugee in sight. Any remaining housing is some of the most expensive on the planet.
Following the flight of camp dragons, the parade of vivid jumbos and the troupe of panto gorillas in our midst comes an assortment of big-eared, bright-eyed leporids. A magnificent drove of florescent hares has hopped onto plinths across Norwich (and further afield too) to delight both the young and the young at heart. Come the summer holidays we’re expecting sweaty legions of overwrought kiddies and their overheating parents to follow the harey trail, all for Break, a charity that has been helping children in care for 50 years. Happy golden birthday to Break.
You can find out more about the hares and their worthy cause here. The sculptures with their stunning pelts will be on display until 8th September, after which they’ll be auctioned off for some much-needed cash. So it’s not a hare today gone tomorrow exhibition. Groan.
In 2013, we had gorillas in our midst. Last year it was the elephant parade and for 2015 it’s Go Go Dragons. Expect to chase the technicolor creatures along the Norwich dragon trail this June. Now call me a party pooper if you want, but I thought the purpose of these campaigns was to highlight the desperate plight of endangered animals. The last time I looked, dragons, unicorns and centaurs, fun and fantastic as they may be, don’t actually exist. I know, shut it, Jack. The kids will love it.
The Chapelfield Shopping Centre, but a hop and a spit from our micro-loft, has been invaded by a herd of elephants in multi-coloured livery – all courtesy of local artists and school kids. The parade of florescent nellies is on international tour and aims to raise awareness of the plight of Asian elephants. Can’t argue with that, I suppose.
The exhibition is similar in theme to the last year’s gorillas in our midst but with a more modest spread and duration. These nellies though, have something the guys never had – their very own gallery and shop. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of facts and figurines. Okay, the little ceramic elephants are a bit on the pricey side but it’s all in a noble cause.
Judging by the hordes of hyperventilating kiddies, the nellies are proving much more popular than the knuckle dragging guys. Must be the cute Dumbo factor. Follow the herd before it migrates to pastures new on 5th May. What next, I wonder? Tigers? Pandas? Rhinos? Howabout Dodos?