19 July 2009

Marco Polo

I ran my >10 miler around Chelsea Bridge last night as penance for recent excesses and over-consumption (lunch at my sister's on Saturday, lunch at Herms' birthday on Sunday etc). Forgot to wear my iPod, which was annoying given the 1.5 hour duration.

My run was my standard loop around Chelsea Bridge, taking me past what I now know to be called the Marco Polo building, just opposite Battersea Park. An unremarkable building, ugly even. However, it has a slightly bizarre symbolism for me.

Picture the scene. I've just finished my A-levels. The summer holidays and a place at university await. My best pal, Osh, decides we need to go for a drive around London, so a bunch of us piled into his old-school VW Beetle and just took off - him, me, I think the Scrimgeour twins and one other. It was, from memory, a beautiful summer evening and the feeling of freedom, driving around London, was exhilarating. At some point we drove past the Marco Polo building, which was, back then, the HQ of the Observer I think, and we got out to marvel at its shiny whiteness. I remember feeling a very clear sense of excitement, of a new phase of my life about to start - hardly surprising given I'd been at the same school for the previous 11 years and was really only just about to experience my first taste of independence. The memory of being in that car, with nowhere to be and total freedom to go where we wanted remains vivid. Somehow, the building's name, evoking exploration and new horizons, is strangely appropriate.

Why does our fifth companion in the car remain nameless? Well, he was the one who, when we ended up driving back through Brixton fairly late in the day, cowered down in the front seat of the car whimpering "I don't want to get shot". Now, whilst this was back in the day when cabbies would refuse to "go South of the river at this time of night", his concern that we'd be shot simply for being white guys in a car was pretty pathetic even considering our tender years...


  1. Step forward, Augustus Lock...

  2. You know what. I absolutely KNEW that you would post that exact comment.

    Wrong! Despite it being hugely probable.

  3. sounds like John Hay to me...