Cybertours: Walking Fleet Street, London
The simple idea behind CyberTours is using Google imagery to look at an area and this guide to make the visit more interesting.
This time we're visiting Fleet Street. Find out how Benjamin Franklin and King George III had an argument about electricity, why wedding cakes are the shape they are and where Tudor England's silicon valley was. More
The concept behind cybertours is quite simple: a guide book text written to be used in conjunction with Google imagery. You use the Google co-ordinates I supply to drop into a London street and then the guide supplies detailed information about the area as you move your browser through it.
Think of it as reading from a guide book as you walk through an art gallery, being directed from one interesting scene to another, with all the information at your finger tips that you need to appreciate the finer details.
The great advantage is that you can be a tourist in London for a dollar without even leaving home. No rush, no fuss, and you'll get to visit parts of the city which are quite off the normal tourist tracks. But never think they're not interesting. Every major street in London has some fascinating stories to tell and now you can share them online.
The best way to show you what I'm talking about is to pick a block of text at random and let you make your own judgement:-
"Now, in CyberTours2 I said that Ye Olde Mitre Tavern in Hatton Garden was about the most difficult pub in London to find. Well, we're just a step away from another one that's also well hidden, and it's also called a 'Ye Olde'. And like the Mitre, that's not just bling advertising: ‘Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’ is a seriously old pub. It was rebuilt soon after the Great Fire in 1666, but there's been an ale house on the site since 1538 and probably a monastery guest house before that.
Of course we have to find it before I can talk about it, or at least find the entrance to Wine Office Court, where the Cheese is located. If you re-position your browser a step or two on the other side of the Telegraph Building clock and look to your right you'll see a red fronted shop with a white star in the window, The Pret A Manger. Next to it is a black fronted place which looks as if it belongs in a Dicken’s story. In fact it is in one, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. That’s the Olde Cheese and the alleyway on the left hand side is the way in.
What's the Cheese like?
Well known for its gloomy interior, wooden panels, some possibly dating back to the 17th Century, and beer cellars which were once part of a monastery. Large rambling rooms spread over three floors and -- it has to be admitted -- sometimes crowded with tourists. But how could anybody with any interest at all in literature not feel a tingling in their spine when they're drinking in a pub which would still be recognisable to Doctor Johnson, James Boswell, Charles Dickens, Thackeray, Pope, Voltaire, Alfred Tennyson, G. K. Chesterton, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, W. B. Yeats, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?
"Going . . . going to famous, John you'll shee. Show up all these toffee nosed writers . . . writing my own story about Herlock Sholmes . . . world's greatest detective . . . going to be famous . . ."
"Come on, Mr Doyle, we're closed and it's high time you went home, as sure as my name's John H. Watson."
For me though it's another name the tourist guides don't mention that always give me a special frisson of excitement inside this pub.
"I've seen all of England, " she said. "I've seen Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and His Majesty's Theatre and the Savoy and the Cheshire Cheese...." (Piccadilly Jim- P. G. Wodehouse)
He couldn't have written that without having visited the place at least once, could he? P.G. Wodehouse could have sat right where I'm sitting now, plotting on how to land poor Bertie Wooster in the soup and how yet again Jeeves, his omniscient gentleman's gentleman would rescue him at the last possible second with some typical but unforeseeable stroke of genius.