Saturday, January 31, 2015


If you've listened to Blood and Smoke so far, you'll be aware that some of the action on the audio recordings that David is listening to takes place in Aldwych underground station, which was used as air raid shelter in World War 2. For years I've been trying to get down there, especially as I'm now writing about the place. Illustrations, maps, plans, photos and a whole pile of books are fine for research, but you can't really get a sense of the layout of the place unless you actually go there. However, this isn't easy because the station has been closed since 1994.

The London Transport Museum organise batches tours of the station every now and again, but tickets go very fast. I had tickets for a tour last June, but ultimately couldn't go because my dad was taken ill on the day of the tour. Then another batch of tours was announced in October, but I missed the news and only found out about it when it was totally sold out.

So anyway, there I was on Thursday, watching a Youtube video about the station and grinding my teeth in frustration that for the foreseeable future, this was the closest I was going to be able to get to the place I'm writing about every day. Finally, over-brimming with vexation, I decided to call the Museum and  see if I could get news on when tickets for the next batch of tours would become available. The guy I spoke to told me there were tours on now. I said I was aware of that but that they were sold out. He then told  me that there had been a cancellation and that a ticket was available for that night (Thursday). The resulting jolt of excitement I felt almost knocked me off my chair. I snapped up the ticket and legged it to the station. After battling my way through the London rush hour, I finally got to the Strand and joined the queue of fellow station enthusiasts. And then, oh joy, they finally let me inside.

I won't bore you with the details, (blah blah tunnel, blah blah staircase) but suffice it to say I had a wonderful time, and what I learned and saw in Aldwych will now make itself into one or more of the remaining chapters of Blood and Smoke ... and beyond.

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