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Sunday 12th May 2013

“Stepping out to Angelucci’s for my coffee beans
Checking out the movies and the magazines
Waitress she watches me crossing from the Barocco Bar
I get a pickup for my steel guitar
I saw you walking out Shaftesbury Avenue
Excuse me talking I wanna marry you
This is the seventh heaven street to me
Don’t you seem so proud
You’re just another angel in the crowd

My conductress on the number nineteen, She was a honey,
Pink toenails and hands all, dirty with the money,
Greasy Greasy hair, easy smile.
Made me feel nineteen for a while,
And I went down, down Chinatown,
In the backroom it’s a man’s world
All the money go down
Duck inside the doorway, duck to eat
There just ain’t no way,
You and me, we can beat

Walking in the wild west end
Walking in the wild west end
Walking with your wild best friend.”

excerpt of  “Wild West End” written by Mark Knopfler 1978 from the album “Dire Straits”

Here’s a little tip if you’re visiting the West End of London. Don’t take the underground to Covent Garden, go to Leicester Square instead. The two stations are only a fifth of a mile apart and the walk is interesting. You take in the edges of Theatreland, Chinatown and of course Covent Garden.

All three areas are Meccas for the art of people-watching and it was a pleasure showing someone new around one of my old haunts. From the market stalls and street entertainers of Covent Garden, to the discount ticket booth underground at Leicester Square station, and the multiplicity of restaurants in Chinatown, there’s never a dull moment!

We finished off the day with a visit to another of my old haunts, Wonk Kei’s restaurant. To use its colloquial name Wonky’s serves the most exquisite Cantonese cuisine at bargain prices, with free green tea thrown in. There is a catch, the décor is tired, the plates plastic and the service such as it is, is designed to move you on quickly. When busy the staff can be positively rude, I remember asking for a beer many years ago and having the can thrown at me! Romantic it isn’t, but its worth a visit just to experience the place and I noted the best possible recommendation, Chinese people still eat there.

It seemed completely appropriate a place given the characters outside, a bog-standard restaurant wouldn’t fit in would it? I felt genuine regret as we caught the Piccadilly Line train back to Hillingdon.