Sunday, October 08, 2006

Oh, Blimey!

I have decided that I am done with the "Full English Breakfast," as least so far as my hotel is concerned. Sure, I like free as much as anybody, but it just isn't good eating. They don't know how to cook eggs or take your order in my hotel, so I recognize that all English breakfasts aren't necessarily like this, but still: it's important to me that I enjoy the food I am eating, or at least the atmosphere in which it is served.

So with that thought in mind, I slept in a little on Saturday. I lazed my way back to the Caffe Nero on Edgeware Road, and had a "brunch pot" (pretty much just yogurt with granola) in addition to a croissant and some mocha. The kicker was that I got to eat this outside on a lovely morning after two days of rain.

It was also on my way to Saturday's big tourist excursion: Abbey Road.

So after I ate, I started on my way. I had looked at a map before I left, and had at least a vague idea where I was going, so I strolled confidently for a while. Soon, however, it was obvious that I was lost.

I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, and compounded it several times by making additional turns based on instinct rather than evidence. I was somewhere in Paddington, or near Paddington, and then I was nowhere at all for a while, before finally getting an idea I might be heading in the right direction when I hit Harrow Road. I walked along it for a while, growing less and less confident I was traveling in the right direction. I stopped to ask a cop for directions, and he guided be back the way I had come, plus another mile or so, to what turned out to be Edgeware Road. Where the coffee-house was at the start of my journey.

From there I only had to walk the original two miles and I'd be at Abbey Road.

Now I should point out that while getting lost was an accident, staying lost was something of a choice. There were several points in my journey at which I could have boarded a bus or train and been sure of my position again soon enough. There's no reason in the world why someone who speaks the language and remains reasonably lucid should remain lost in a large city for very long, except by choice.

And in my wandering around, I came upon a few things I wouldn't have otherwise. There was a sudden, small body of water with a little dock and boats, a cool spider web, and a few other things.

And I learned that they have excellent maps posted at many of the bus stops, which is how I ultimately made a left on Circus Road, which took me to Abbey Road. I had been walking for four hours when I got there.

The street itself is largely a quiet, residential one. It had a fair amount of traffic on Saturday afternoon. I actually walked right past the studio, catching it only out of the corner of my eye afterwards, and quickly turning around (I certainly didn't need another unnecessary five mile hike).

It's nothing much from the outside, this legendary studio. You can walk right into the driveway and up the front steps, which I did. You can't go in, though. Apparently they opened it to the public only once, in 1983, and whatever may have ensued, they decided never to do it again.

'Revolver was recorded here' was my primary thought, although of course almost all of the Beatles' catalog was. And Imperial Bedroom. And a host of other great music and comedy: Peter Sellers recorded here (with George Martin at the helm, too) when he was in the Goon Squad. Nerds (by which I mostly mean my brother Larry) may be excited to learn that music for the Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings series was recorded here as well.

I noticed when I pulled the pictures off of my camera that, much like Buckingham Palace, I never took a picture of the building itself. I had a shot of the logo above the door, and some appropriately labelled but otherwise unrelated street signs, but nothing at all of the building itself. Other buildings, sure. So while you can see all of that stuff on the Flickr page, you'll have to troll the Web yourselves if you want to see the studio building itself.

I never did find the famed zebra crossing from Abbey Road. By that point I had walked something like 8 miles, and their last studio album was never my favorite Beatles record anyway. It's just the one where you can take a picture. I tried once to have my picture taken inside a Klaus Voorman drawing, a la Revolver, and the results were unsettling.

Should I change my mind, though, there is a bus which stops a half a block from my hotel that can return me to the site in about 15 minutes.

It isn't a total loss, though. I still got my picture taken in a Beatles album, as you can plainly see below. Too bad I didn't bring a turtleneck.

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