Or perhaps the School of Life? No matter, Bloomsbury remains the undiscovered gem of London, the British Museum its gate, moat and castle wrapped into one. ‘Stop. Do not come forward. Here is Bloomsbury’s waiting room but you will require further scrutiny before travelling beyond our gates.’
Bloomsbury is a neighbourhood scarred by its proximity to King’s Cross, though even that area is finally coming out of the slum-times to be shiny and bright, even desirable. The odd thing is, Bloomsbury feels like it should be desirable – and it can be – though at other times it is overrun by an almost impossible array of horrible hotels and boarding houses. Sometimes, it feels like a secret, a little bit naughty, a little bit risqué. Bohemian times. Chattering times.
Gandhi studied law round the corner from Tavistock Square. On a sunny afternoon, it’s blissful though in my head always shrouded in shadow, in winter an impenetrable marshland. There’s something of the halfway house round here, a place where tourist plonk their bods exhausted from sightseeing and busy roads just seem a little too close for tranquil repose.
I have never heard of Gordon Square. It’s unremarkable – though acquires an edge as a secret London holds close to its heart. You could walk by this square a billion times and never even think of stepping foot in it. Really, it’s that unassuming.
Woburn Square. Much longer in former incarnations. Once you could pretty much walk from King’s Cross to Russell Square without stepping out from under the shade of London Plane trees. This square is underused, perhaps forlorn. Still, I wouldn’t mind having it as my back garden.
A bit of London tourist porn. A beautiful green cafe and a lovely red telephone box. If London ever loses either of these little landmarks, I will be a very sad person indeed. Tourists (including me) dream of these London icons. We come to the city for them.
The last square is also everyone’s favourite. Russell Square has become the beating heart of Bloomsbury once again. Dreamy, even sublime, you reach levels of peacefulness just by stepping into it.