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Friday, November 05, 2004

The Top Ten London Facts

Several bits and pieces about the playground we all love a little too much.

London actually started life as a Roman settlement called Londinium in 43AD, constructed out of crude cardboard to fox the Roman's enemies into thinking the city was bigger and more impressive than it was. In actual fact, all it contained were three occupied houses and an early Starbucks, and seven burly Romans in large boots making as much noise as possible.

For a week, London had the most advanced sewerage system in the world.

Currently, the most famous landmark is The Queen. Measuring three foot fifteen high, she was installed in her current location by London Borough Council in 1952. Few people realise that this isn't the actual real Queen, but a fake constructed for a mid-Eighties TV special. The real Queen now lives in Highbury, spends most mornings in the local greasy spoon cafĂ© drinking tea and reading the paper, then spends the afternoon in the Dog and Duck playing the trivia machine. To date, she has won £5320 and knighted three bar staff.

Contrary to popular belief, charming chanteuse Julie London does not own London. Patsy Gallant does.

The reason the Underground Tube system is so dirty is due to the intervention of several animal rights groups in 1972. Up until that point, specially bred miniature Highland sheep had been allowed into the system. Small enough to fit under the trains, and woolly enough to pick up most of the dirt, they roamed free on the Underground, lightly dusting as they went. Now we merely have mice with tiny brooms and maid's outfits. Though you can still see a group of wild Tube Sheep wandering around Cockfosters, but visitors are advised not to approach them as years down there have given them a dangerous amount of static electricity has built up in their wool and there's a mad glint in their eye.

One feral Tube Sheep can power the Regent Street Christmas Lights for a whole day.

Royal architect and well-known prankster, Sir Christopher Wren designed a great deal of the city after 4/5ths of it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. With incredible forethought, he designed the layout in such a way that, when lit at night, it spells out the words 'COCK OFF!' when seen from above. The impressive dome of his St Paul's Cathedral forms the lower dot of the exclamation mark.

The world's longest running play, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, can still be seen running in London today. The reason for its success is that a skilled hypnotist passes amongst the audience and wipes their memory of the previous intolerable two hours at the end of the performance, leaving a feeling of almost post-coital bliss in its place. There are fifty-seven people who have been in the audience for almost twenty years now, and they are frankly beginning to smell.

In London, there is no reason why we drive on the left (or the 'wrong side of the road' as some tourist brochures will have it) other than to injure slow-moving, overweight tourist who aren't paying attention. It's a hilarious sport, you know.

Famous landmark The Houses of Parliament was originally built in the market town of Peterborough as a place to keep Wellington boots. The King at the time, Susan, liked it so much that he ordered it be brought to the country's capital and be used as the seat of governmental power. In return King Susan sent London's then most famous landmark, The Key Theatre, to replace the missing edifice. Two additional facts: they've never been able to get the smell of Wellington boots out of the place. And The Key Theatre is so named as, if you look at it directly from above, it looks like an enormous theatre.

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