Non-Existent Part Of Hampstead NW3?

Spookdaddy

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The only place I've ever been properly mazed was - of all places - Bloomsbury, which is not at all particularly difficult to negotiate. It's also an area I'm very familiar with.

My excuse at the time was that I was incredibly tired. I'd just worked two or three unplanned overnighters, had virtually no sleep in that time, and was also coming down with flu like symptoms. I was trying to get from just east of the British Museum to Euston Station, which is a very straightforward journey, and no distance, and I'd done the route - or very close to it - many times before.

But I got stuck in a loop. It was dark and raining and rush-hour. I knew exactly where I was going, but I kept getting it wrong and would find myself back were I'd already been without really knowing how. I can visualise the journey now, and realise that for some reason I was allowing myself to be pulled westward even though I knew it was not the direction I needed.

It is possibly one of the most disconcerting experiences I've ever had - and I'd compare it to some of the descriptions I've read of people getting 'stuck' in fairy raths and the like.
 

maximus otter

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The only place I've ever been properly mazed was - of all places - Bloomsbury, which is not at all particularly difficult to negotiate. It's also an area I'm very familiar with.

My excuse at the time was that I was incredibly tired. I'd just worked two or three unplanned overnighters, had virtually no sleep in that time, and was also coming down with flu like symptoms. I was trying to get from just east of the British Museum to Euston Station, which is a very straightforward journey, and no distance, and I'd done the route - or very close to it - many times before.

But I got stuck in a loop. It was dark and raining and rush-hour. I knew exactly where I was going, but I kept getting it wrong and would find myself back were I'd already been without really knowing how. I can visualise the journey now, and realise that for some reason I was allowing myself to be pulled westward even though I knew it was not the direction I needed.

It is possibly one of the most disconcerting experiences I've ever had - and I'd compare it to some of the descriptions I've read of people getting 'stuck' in fairy raths and the like.
I’ve spent some time in the British Museum area, and coincidentally it’s the part of London that caused me to start carrying a compass in town. More than once l’ve exited the BM (l can hear American Forteans sniggering at that phrase...) and found myself unaccountably disoriented. Now, l know that if l head south, l’m going to hit New Oxford Street and all will be well.

Odd.

maximus otter
 

Victory

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The only place I've ever been properly mazed was - of all places - Bloomsbury, which is not at all particularly difficult to negotiate. It's also an area I'm very familiar with.
My guess is this was also to do with Euston station itself.

Since the removal of the Euston Arch in the 1960's, it lacks a landmark.
It is more of a station on a road than an area in itself.

A major rail terminus, but set back from the road, with it's anonymous 1960's design.
It also lacks things of note to the north of it to give it context, just the dreariness of Eversholt Street, and the blandness of Cardington Street.
Exacerbated at the moment by the closures for redevelopment linked to HS2.

Contract this with the more "West Endish" Baker Street to the North West...with Madame Tussauds and mental images of Sherlock Holmes.
And King's Cross to the North East, with the gothic grandeur of St Pancras Station, and the Cubitt frontage and Harry Potter associations of King's Cross station itself.
Too...whilst King's Cross for many years had little of note to the north of it, King's Cross can be seen as more of a gateway to North London...to Islington and Holloway.
Euston on the other hand is a sort of no man's land...there are some things close by to mention..the Wellcome Institute and The Magic Circle, but you have to have a reason for visiting them.
 

Spookdaddy

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All good points, but I don't think they apply to that particular experience.

Euston has been my landing point in London since the 80's - I must have been through it hundreds of times, for both work and pleasure related journeys. I know the Euston Road (but you're right - pretty non-descript) and I know Bloomsbury well too. I've worked and walked the West End, Soho and Fitzrovia since the 90's (and I do walk everywhere, which I reckon is probably the best way to start mapping an area properly in your head).

It's hard to explain - it wasn't really about things being unfamiliar, but about my sudden inability to negotiate that familiarity: I knew where I was and where I wanted to go, but for some reason, for that one episode, nothing joined up. (I don't know if that makes any more sense to anyone else than the original experience did to me.)

It was surreal, rather than spooky - I was just about to write that there was something of the Aickman about it, when I realised that I might well have actually passed his house on Gower Street during that very journey.
 

catseye

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I'm not sure that rents or house prices are ever going to fall to truly 'affordable' levels. This is a tiny island and the housing stock is insufficient for the number of people that need housing. So everyone is fighting and scrambling about for houses at the lower levels, this competition means that sellers can pretty much charge what they like. People need somewhere to live and they will practically mortgage their souls just to put a roof over their head.
 

NumberNine

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On the subject of Hampstead, has anyone used the ladies South End Green public toilets? I had the misfortune to need to a few years ago and made the mistake of glancing up. The whole of the cubicle ceiling was a huge mass of spider webs several feet deep with literally hundreds of spiders of varying sizes and looked like it'd been undisturbed for years. I've got severe arachnophobia, I was out of there before I'd even got my jeans up! I'm out of my depth with ordinary house spiders, there's at least one colony of trapdoor spiders and who knows what other escaped exotics on Hampstead Heath. I'd risk a burst bladder rather than use those toilets again.
 

Ogdred Weary

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On the subject of Hampstead, has anyone used the ladies South End Green public toilets? I had the misfortune to need to a few years ago and made the mistake of glancing up. The whole of the cubicle ceiling was a huge mass of spider webs several feet deep with literally hundreds of spiders of varying sizes and looked like it'd been undisturbed for years. I've got severe arachnophobia, I was out of there before I'd even got my jeans up! I'm out of my depth with ordinary house spiders, there's at least one colony of trapdoor spiders and who knows what other escaped exotics on Hampstead Heath. I'd risk a burst bladder rather than use those toilets again.
I googled "South End Green public toilets" after reading this and turns out the gents is also notable, garnering a full blog post here:

https://www.kentishtowner.co.uk/2013/10/23/wednesday-picture-south-end-greens-infamous-gents-toilet/
 

Stormkhan

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I'm out of my depth with ordinary house spiders, there's at least one colony of trapdoor spiders and who knows what other escaped exotics on Hampstead Heath. I'd risk a burst bladder rather than use those toilets again.
Years ago, I lived near Hampstead - Haverstock Hill - and my firm moved premises to near the Brent Cross Shopping Centre. Often, to get to work, I'd have to leave Brent Cross tube, and either wait for a bus to the centre then a bus to work or - far quicker but less comfortable - walk to my work via the centre. Luckily I enjoy walking.
Under one of the pedestrian paths, beneath one of the many fly-overs, a light was permanently on. So seeing a huge, 3ft. rectangular web, home to hundreds of common spiders was a real treat, night or day.
Luckily, I'm not an arachnophobe.
 

IbisNibs

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More than once l’ve exited the BM (l can hear American Forteans sniggering at that phrase...)
I can assure you, Maximus Otter, that I would never snigger at you, unless you said, "more than once BM has exited me . . .".
 

IbisNibs

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The tips in this thread that tell how to get around parts of London sound like they're worth printing out and keeping in one's London Travel Guide! I may do that one of these days. I hope to get to London before I'm too old and decrepit.
 

Victory

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All good points, but I don't think they apply to that particular experience.
Noted.
I have never had your experience, sounds really surreal and a bit worrying.
Can only then guess that tiredness was involved, and stress.
 

IbisNibs

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Victory, if you are referring to Spookdaddy's experience of getting lost in a familiar part of town, I have to say that:
two or three unplanned overnighters, . . . virtually no sleep in that time, and . . . also coming down with flu like symptoms.
. . . would explain everything! And you're right, Victory, it DOES sound stressful. Under those conditions, it's essential to get into a warm bed pronto!
 

Spookdaddy

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Noted.I have never had your experience, sounds really surreal and a bit worrying.
Can only then guess that tiredness was involved, and stress.
That's the most logical explanation - and the one that I generally fall back on.

It's by no means a perfect one, though - as back in those days I worked lots of ridiculous hours, and never experienced anything like it at any other time. (Twenty-four hour shifts were not unusual, and I once did thirty six hours straight - and if that wasn't bad enough, it was in Blackpool. Shudders uncontrollably.)
 

Spookdaddy

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Come to think of it, I had another quite odd experience in the vicinity - one I relayed many years back and thought might have disappeared. But here it is - from the Thinking You Recognise Someone & Then Really Seeing Them thread (#20):

I was once sitting in a cafe on Great Russell Street (Laaarnden) when I found myself convinced that the bloke sitting with his back to me, slouched over a cup of coffee, was someone I was at university with. This was not someone I'd known very well or particularly liked - in fact I always thought he was a bit of a twat - and up to that point I don't think he had once crossed my mind since last seeing him in the flesh. When he got up to leave he looked nothing at all like the man I'd thought he might be and I couldn't quite work out why I'd thought it might be him. My thoughts were still running along these lines when I stepped out of the cafe and bumped into the bit of a twat I'd mistaken the guy in the cafe for. And I mean literally - I actually walked straight into him. That was quite weird….
The café was on the south side of Great Russell Street, towards the junction with Bloomsbury Street, near where the old Gosh Comics used to be. (I think there is still a cafe on the site, although the current version appears somewhat less of a greasy spoon than I recall it being back then.)

I remember that as soon as I’d thought – against all logic – that I recognised the guy, two other thoughts immediately followed:

1) No, it doesn’t look like him – it’s just the back of a bloke in a café; could be a million other people.

2) Why would I even think of him? He’s a guy who acted like a bit of a tosser and had a reputation for the same, but who otherwise I didn’t really know at all, had never spoken to, had never had any reason to think about – just someone I was at university with nearly ten years before and whose name I just happened to know, along with the physical entity it was applied to.

The logical explanation is that I had actually seen him in the vicinity before entering the café – but that any recognition was bubbling around my unconscious rather than my conscious mind, waiting to ambush me at an appropriate moment.

Either that or the sheer accumulated weight of history contained within the BM and its environs is so utterly enormous that it occasionally busts the weld of reality.

I’m not particularly averse to either explanation.
 

TheLeeds

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Er that way guv and turn left.
The only place I've ever been properly mazed was - of all places - Bloomsbury, which is not at all particularly difficult to negotiate. It's also an area I'm very familiar with..........
For a short while in the early 90s I worked in Russell Square House, opposite the park with the cafe in it. (working for Trevor Deaves' hard sell insurance sales company, MI Group.) I'd often arrive early so I could get a decent coffee and some proper toast in there before venturing across the road.
There was a good sandwich shop somewhere near the Brunswick Centre. You could tell it was popular because of the queues outside at lunchtime. They did a nice prawn and avacado sandwich on half a french loaf. It wasn't cheap but it was worth walking there to get it.
I remember one day on my way there, walking along Marchmont Street I was passing a newsagents on the other side of the road when I noticed an E21 BMW 3 series with a wheel clamp on it. When I came back there was an extension lead coming from the doorway of the newsagents, to the wheel clamp, and some bloke with an angle grinder, cutting it off.
I've looked on streetview and I can see roughly where the newsagents was, but I can't seem to find the sandwich shop. Anyone know where it is, or was ?

The other memorable thing about that area was one day I'd gone for a walk down Southampton Row and wandered into Alan Alan's joke shop, where I bought some exploding cigars.

Incidentally, that end of the road (Southampton Row) was featured in a pop video at some point around then. It's 'Naughty Christmas' by Fat Les. They come out of a fancy dress Christmas party and are dancing in the evening rush hour traffic. I thought I recognised the location so I found it on streetview to confirm.

(jump to about 2:20 unless you want to see the whole video.)
 

Victory

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@TheLeeds

Alan Alam's was a gem.
I'd make it as part of Holborn, but very close to Bloomsbury Square.

There is a massive amount of interest in both areas.

To tell you more....here's a wonderful little clip..."It's the piles, the dreadful piles!"

 

gordonrutter

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For a short while in the early 90s I worked in Russell Square House, opposite the park with the cafe in it. (working for Trevor Deaves' hard sell insurance sales company, MI Group.) I'd often arrive early so I could get a decent coffee and some proper toast in there before venturing across the road.
There was a good sandwich shop somewhere near the Brunswick Centre. You could tell it was popular because of the queues outside at lunchtime. They did a nice prawn and avacado sandwich on half a french loaf. It wasn't cheap but it was worth walking there to get it.
I remember one day on my way there, walking along Marchmont Street I was passing a newsagents on the other side of the road when I noticed an E21 BMW 3 series with a wheel clamp on it. When I came back there was an extension lead coming from the doorway of the newsagents, to the wheel clamp, and some bloke with an angle grinder, cutting it off.
I've looked on streetview and I can see roughly where the newsagents was, but I can't seem to find the sandwich shop. Anyone know where it is, or was ?

The other memorable thing about that area was one day I'd gone for a walk down Southampton Row and wandered into Alan Alan's joke shop, where I bought some exploding cigars.

Incidentally, that end of the road (Southampton Row) was featured in a pop video at some point around then. It's 'Naughty Christmas' by Fat Les. They come out of a fancy dress Christmas party and are dancing in the evening rush hour traffic. I thought I recognised the location so I found it on streetview to confirm.

(jump to about 2:20 unless you want to see the whole video.)
I used to live round there in the mid ‘80’s. As indeed did Charles Fort a good few years earlier.

You worked for the MI group you say? I’m afraid you are now dead to me :)
 

TheLeeds

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Er that way guv and turn left.
I used to live round there in the mid ‘80’s. As indeed did Charles Fort a good few years earlier.

You worked for the MI group you say? I’m afraid you are now dead to me :)
Were you the bloke with a similar name to one of the members of Duran Duran who got really annoyed when I cold called him ( used NME to make my cold call lists), or the one with the brilliant reggae musical answering machine message that several of us in the office kept ringing up to listen to ?
 
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