OK, there's possibly not ninjas. I just unwrapped a new shirt the other day – for my interview, and all – and once again was confounded by the number of pins that shirt manufacturers secrete within those things. It truly takes some concentration to get all those damn things out, and it's a long-held belief of mine that the only people gifted enough to leave the pins in and wear the shirt without harming themselves are special “shirt ninjas”. They alone can use the pins at will for their own sinister purposes…

But that's got nothing to do with much, really.

Yesterday I met up with James and Karen – a couple of old friends from Adelaide/Rovers – who are over for a bit of a whirlwind world tour. As I didn't have anything pressing to be at (e.g. work) yesterday, I thought I'd kick off their tour of London.

Our first stop was somewhere I'd been meaning to get around to visiting – the London monumental department store known as Harrods. We primarily went in there for a bit of a laugh – it's not as if we particularly needed anything, or could afford anything in there. But ohmigod, what an amazing place. I swear, if I was ever in the same situation as Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions, I could easily make a fair impact in my task by cruising through Harrods.

First of all we wandered around the ground floor and looked at the mens' fashion section, and were just amazed at what was available, and clearly what sort of price the market will bear for this sort of thing. James and Karen were paticularly stunned, as not only were they trying to come to terms with the relative weakness of the Australian Dollar in London, but also they'd literally JUST flown in from Thailand, where you can get pretty much any brand name on anything you want for about six bucks. So yeah, James found the concept of 80 quid for a designer label AC/DC top a bit distressing (but it's whan Bon Scott would have wanted, right ?).

From there we decided to go to the top floor and work our way down (pausing for a brief photo opportunity by the Diana and Dodi Memorial Fountain). Sporting Goods was first on the list. Sadly, I couldn't find any Fox Hunting accessories, although there was polo gear, and a fairly eye-opening cycle section. They had quite a comprehensive Surf section too, which sort of intrigued me – if I wanted surfing accessories, I'd go somewhere say… oohh… near a BEACH !? But anyway. A couple of standout items on this floor were the personal hovercraft (a snip at 12,000 pounds), and the Segway ! Yes, you can buy a Segway at Harrods. For those who don't know what a Segway is and can't be arsed clicking on the link, let's say this: you thought people on Razor scooters were lazy because they couldn't be bothered walking ? Well the Segway (as used by Dubya !) makes them look like athletes.

Continuing downstairs we hit the toy department, and the mind boggles at the kind of kiddies whose toy arsenals are stocked from these hallowed halls. The board games section seemed to lack “Test Match”, which is surely the greatest board game ever invented (and has NEVER incited anywhere near as many fights as Monopoly is responsible for !). On the bright side though, they had kiddie ride-on HumVees for about 14K… although if you ask me, a hovercraft would be more fun (and cheaper!).

Next floor brought us into Sound and Vision, which we couldn't possibly go past. Forget your Teac specials or XMS sub systems – brand names in this dept. were more your Bose/Bang & Olufsen type ranges. Unfortunately we must have looked pretty obvious, because not once did a salesperson offer to wind up one of the systems for us. Probably the coolest thing I saw was (pictured) this pair of speakers by Ferguson Hill. The sound output's reportedly quite something, and even moreso considering they only take 5W to drive, but the most impressive aspect of the thing is having a pair of 3×5 foot transparent speaker cones in your living room. Wow. When I get a spare 8 grand… and somewhere to live…

After leaving Harrods we found that the weather had turned quite miserable, so we made our way over toward Abbey Road for the obligatory Beatles Pilgrimage. We had to stop in at The Elgin for a pint on the way in order to avoid the confusingly unseasonal lightning storm that took place.

We finally made it to Abbey Road, and then pushed on to St John's Wood station just in time to avoid getting saturated. Unfortunately the tube was down, and we had to walk back down to The Elgin, and got drowned anyway. Oh well.

So that was James & Karen's first day in summery London. Yay.

2004-08-04 : Look out, there’s NINJAS!
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