London: Secret Level Code

London is a secret city. The maps lie about it. The first time you
discover this – probably the way every first-time Londonder discovers
the maps are wrong – is when you abandon the tube map for the first time (like a tube failure forcing you to walk to the
next nearest station…) The Tube map is, in its way, a masterpiece of
computer gaming programming. It is perhaps the most convincing and
widely accepted virtual universe ever created. Areas of Zone 1 in
London are a lot closer than it implies, and the way the “stations” fit
together makes a surprising real-world jigsaw puzzle.

London takes
time to get to know, and there are few other places I’ve been – even
foreign cities – that feel as if they are as good at hiding things as
London is. Pubs, clubs, bars, roads, buildings, gardens, parks –
you can walk down the same road for years and never know they’re right
there. It takes quite a jolt to wake you up to it – for me, it was the
red foliage I saw from my bedroom the other day. All these hidden
autumn leaves lie behind a thundering main road. And you’d never
know… (Click for bigger image).


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