Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I like serendipity. I've been reading my way through the complete Sherlock Holmes in spare moments, and on the train journey down to London today, I got up to "The Bruce-Partington Plans", involving a dead body at Aldgate underground station. Woo, I thought, I'm going down there today! It's the nearest tube station to the competition venue! I was planning to go to Old Street first, drop my bags off at the hotel and then walk down there, so as I know how to get there tomorrow, but I decided it might be fun to do it the other way round and see the location of the thrilling story I'm half-way through reading. Especially when the train arrived at St Pancras just as Sherlock Holmes was deducing that the body had actually been on the roof of the train - closing my book, I made a mental note of the page number and found that it was 408, which in the Ben System is "roof". What more sign could anyone need that the fates want me to go to Aldgate?

And it's very cool, too - the stairs are easily a hundred years old, so Holmes, Watson and Lestrade came down those very stairs, stood on the platform and peered into the tunnel in the direction I'd just come from. It's great to walk in the footprints of fictional heroes.

The venue proved easy to find, and the walk up to my hotel was easily navigated. And it turned out to be a good thing I'd gone to Aldgate first, because that meant I arrived at the hall of residence just on the stroke of two o'clock, and it turned out that the reception closes for lunch between one and two, so if I'd done things the sensible way I would have just had to turn around and lug my baggage back into the streets of London anyway!

So here I am, it's a lovely day, and I've been all around the town - I went to the Royal Festival Hall, where fourteen years ago I had my first encounter with the Mind Sports Olympiad, with mind sports enthusiasts generally and (at a distance without paying much attention to it) the world of competitive memorising! Just give me a time machine, and I could go back to 1997 and win the World Championship by a mile and a half. And tell my 20-year-old self fourteen years' worth of winning lottery numbers.

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