Tower Hill, Savage Gardens and the Orpheus Bar & Restaurant
(The Medusa Frequency)
Heading out of Soho into Oxford Street, a public dialogue seemed to be going on in general fashion. A man in a white jacket hissed into a mobile phone, “He’s such a twat, isn’t he?”; a trendy man said to an attractive woman, “I can’t do Monday and I can’t do Thursday”; an olive-skinned man said to his friend stooping to tie his shoelaces up in a doorway, “If I want information, you should be able to provide me with it.”
In Oxford Street itself I heard a strangely familiar sound. I looked up and it was the same guy I’d passed in Exhibition Road earlier in the morning, doing his Jesus rap into his personal loudspeaker. “You’re going in the wrong direction,” came the electronically-modified Scouse accent. I’m not, I thought, I’m heading for Oxford Circus Tube. “That’s why Jesus came in the world,” he went on regardless, “to die for the sinner, and turn the sinners back into winners.”
Getting to street level was like coming up for air. The night was fresh and crisp and all around things were lit up, from the station itself to the huge sundial outside to some beautiful buildings across a cobbled street and, across the main road, the Tower of London. A man stood by wearing a sandwich board saying SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND. Savage Gardens was across the street – no obvious gardens anywhere, savage or otherwise, but a short lane flanked by a couple of enormous old buildings. I couldn’t imagine the modest Orpheus and Tower Bridge Club as described being held in either, but the street seemed to end so I presumed it had to be here somewhere. As I walked it suddenly struck me that all these years I’d been thinking the club was for people who play bridge; it was only now I was a short walk from Tower Bridge that I realised this was in fact where it got its name from. Well, half of it, anyway – what the Orpheus bit was about I couldn’t be sure.