Chopper's 'hard bastard' guide to London
The badass Australian ex-criminal gives us a hard bastard’s guide to the city
Hello, Chopper here. How you going? Time Out has asked me for a hard bastard’s guide to London, for both visitors to the city (like me) and you Londonites. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Didn’t we put you Aussies on a boat 200 years ago? What could you possibly know about London?’ Well, what I do know is that your Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and, sadly, Time Out are only going to tell you about the safe, holiday-like-a-grinning-dickhead types of places. So, it’s about time someone gave your time in London a bit of ballsack.
The first thing you’ve got to know is the city is huge. It makes Sydney look like a kitten in a dress with lipstick on. If you tried to walk from one side of London to the other, not only would you be walking for 134 days, but you would also get stabbed approximately 9.3 times. Stabbing is how Londoners express themselves. That, and rioting and museums. If you like museums, try the London Museum of Stabbing and Rioting in Hackney. Or, if you like stabbing and rioting, try your skills at the well-secured British Museum, where no one will be expecting it.
But back to the point. London is so massive, how do you get around? You could take a bus, or hail a cab. But taxis in London are about $100 with a slight chance of rape, so this leaves public transport. Like a fucking chump. The Underground is novel, at first, but you get over the ‘Wow, it’s like I’m being sent into a nineteenth-century coal mine!’ excitement pretty quickly, as the bored fucking faces of daily commuters prove.
My advice: if you’re young and bendy, why not Parkour about the place? Remember, though, in these times of heightened security, if you aren’t careful you might backflip into a battery of Rapier missiles on a rooftop somewhere, which are not only pointy and ouchy, but are guarded by a bunch of bored army dudes who are just itching to shoot something. So, if you choose to go free-running, chances are the final part of your journey will be in an ambulance. But then, all of a sudden, traffic stops for you! It’s like your own private limo, with extra hardcore narcotics.
Once you know your way around, the next task is to find a place to stay. It’s not easy, but the city does have some excellent accommodation if you know where to look. I recommend getting yourself hurt (Parkour’s a good choice here) and then spending the night in one of the many fantastic hospitals. Since they’re covered by the NHS, it’s the cheapest option in town. Fucking win!
Things to do
When it comes to entertainment, London is world class. From muggings in Brixton to glassings in the East End, there is something for anyone who’s looking for that extra bit of local flavour. But let’s not forget the touristy offerings. You Londoners don’t even seem to bother with the heaps of fun things to see and do. Fucking idiots. There’s something to everyone’s tastes, hard bastard or not. Personally, I’m partial to a bit of historical torture, so a visit to the Tower of London satisfied my appetite for sixteenth-century violence nicely. But if modern torture is more to your fancy, buy a ticket to ‘Mamma Mia!’ in the West End. I guarantee if they had played Abba in Guantanamo Bay, the War on Terror would have been over by the second chorus of ‘Waterloo’.
But what makes London truly amazing is the cultural diversity. People come from all over the world, from foreign lands like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – so many different people, all in one city, to serve you alcohol. So fucking drink it! If you’ve not woken up on an Australian stranger’s floor with only a fuzzy memory of yelling Aussie chants at pigeons the previous night, you can’t call yourself a hard bastard at all.
But whatever you choose to do in London my biggest piece of advice, for both tourists and inhabitants, is to take the fucking place on. Go hard or go home.
'Heath Franklin's Chopper – A Hard Bastard's Guide to Life' is at the London Wonderground, Aug 20-24.