From Soho in the rain to places to run amok in Kent, where to howl at the moon in Mayfair, and all the good places for Beef Chow Mein and Pina Coladas, the discerning werewolf’s guide to London
02.09.2008 - 02.09.2008 15 °C
London is teeming with werewolves. You can hardly escape them.
I just missed capturing in full view this werewolf as he strolled down Piccadilly Street. He was about to attack the woman with the rollerbag suitcase, but saw my camera and dashed out of the frame. I clicked quick enough to just get a partial view of his hairy face in the frame.
I was reminded of this fact recently in of all places Toronto. I was listening to the top-40 radio station that was previously called The Mix but has now been rebranded as Virgin Radio. Sir Richard Branson slaps his Virgin logo on yet something else. He’s almost has hard to escape as the werewolves.
The radio was playing a new song by Kid Rock which seemed to consist of Kid Rock singing over the music from the verses of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon and the chorus of Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Hearing the bits of the Warren Zevon song got me thinking about all the places named in Werewolves of London, and I decided I should go and check them out, keeping of course a gun loaded with silver bullets and a vial of holy water handy, just in case.
I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
In the centre of the West End is the area of Soho, a diverse area of high street shops, pubs and clubs (for both the gay and straight crowds), sex shops and residences for both the rich and the poor.
The area’s name comes from the 17th century, when the area was used for hunting. “Soho,” the hunters would call, “there is the fox.” No wonder werewolves stalk the area, they are looking for payback for the hunting of their canid brothers.
Soho seems a fitting place for werewolves, really, given the number of places that seem to cater to our most animalistic of desires, those for food, drink, sex and dance music.
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's
Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein
If a werewolf was stalking from beef chow mein, Soho would be a good place to do it. There is some debate whether Chinatown is part of Soho or not, but it certainly is very close to it.
Lee Ho Fook’s is the name of a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, on the pedestrianized Gerrard Street at numbers 15-16.
The next part I wasn’t so much looking forward to, that of the eating of Lee Ho Fook’s offerings. Perhaps werewolves, used to supping on the raw flesh of the wiry “little old ladies” that they mutilated last night, aren’t too particular about their asian cuisine. However, the fully human customers who had reviewed the place online were unanimous in their view that the place sucked. However, as any great artist suffers for his art, I was prepared to suffer through a meal at Lee Ho Fook’s.
By art, I mean my writing, and by writing, I mean this blog. Many will dispute that this blog constitutes art. In fact, there are probably a group that would dispute the assertion that this is even writing, but I digress.
Luckily for both my art and my stomach, Lee Ho Fook’s had this sign posted on the door.
Saved by renovations!
I did, however, go to another Chinese restaurant and get a beef and noodle dish, just to keep in the spirit of the thing.
He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair
While the song is about London, there is this one mention of someplace that is actually not in London. Kent is a county to the south-east of London which includes both the white cliffs of Dover and the entrance to the channel tunnel. I haven’t been to Kent, other than travelling through it on my way to Brighton and France. I mean, it sounds a scary place, what with werewolves running amuck.
Canterbury is in Kent, which is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the chief Bishop of the Anglican Church. The current Archbishop is one Rowan Williams, who if you look at pictures of him, you might think him a rather hairy individual. Hmmm, werewolves in Kent and a hirsute bishop. Coincidence?
Unlike Kent, Mayfair is in London. Mayfair is just to the west of Soho and bordered on the other side of Hyde Park. The area, named after the annual fair that used to be held in the area, was one of the most fashionable residential areas in the 17th and 18th century.
Over the years the area has converted to being a mostly commercial district, including being home to a number of the most expensive and exclusive hotels in London, including places like the Ritz and Claridge’s
Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen
Mayfair is bordered on the south by Green Park, which, along with St. James’ Park forms the beautiful park area surrounding Buckingham Palace.
Now, I have never seen the Queen out walking, and in fact right now she is off on summer vacation, but I think if she was to walk, she would probably take a stroll along The Queen’s Walk in Green Park.
The Queen’s Walk was built by Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, as a walk towards the Queen’s Basin, a large reservoir in the park. The reservoir is gone now, filled in by Queen Victoria (I guess she wasn’t a fan of water), but the walk still exists today.
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's
His hair was perfect
The Trader Vic’s in London is in the Hilton Hotel just north of Hyde Park Corner in Mayfair, one of the many previously mentioned luxury hotels in the area.
While this was my first visit to the London brand of Trader Vic’s, I had been at a Trader Vic’s before when I was in Beverly Hills. No werewolves in Beverly Hills that I saw, though the place does have a few monsters of it’s own. Reconstructed by plastic surgery and kept alive by injections of platypus’s placentas and nightly sleeps in their oxygen chambers, some of the old codgers weren’t much more than Frankenstein’s Monster with better credit. The place is so image conscious that I can’t imagine a werewolf would have to spend long in Beverly Hills before someone would be suggesting a “really good doctor” to apply a course of laser hair removal treatments.
Trader Vic’s in London is much like Trader Vic’s in Los Angeles, in that it is a tacky Polynesian theme.
I had a Pina Colada, though I don’t think anyone mistook me for a werewolf. After spending a morning wandering around in the rain in Soho, my hair was much less than perfect.
Better stay away from him
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim
I'd like to meet his tailor
I don’t know where werewolves have their clothes tailored, however if they really have perfect hair and hang out in bars in Mayfair, then they probably wear bespoke. In London, the place to buy your tailor made suits is Savile Row. Werewolves shopping in one of the many tailors along Savile Row could find themselves rubbing shoulders with Prince Charles, Daniel Craig and Jude Law.
Savile Row used to be a posh residential area, but like other areas in Mayfair, turned to commercial properties in the 18th century with tailors starting to populate the area. The area became well known for bespoke tailoring by 1846, when the “founder” of Savile Row, Mr. Henry Poole inherited his father’s tailoring business at No. 32.
As we continue into the new millennium, though, Savile Row is in danger. The rise of men’s fashion houses in France and Italy along with the rise of rents in central London threaten the existence of the tailors along the row. So get out there and buy your suits now, while you still can.
Good thing it was only a half moon. A full moon and I probably would have had my lungs ripped out.
Enjoy London, lycanthropes
Werewolves of London