Susie Rushton: Goosebumps – the first sign of spring

Urban Notebook
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The Independent Online

If you live in the countryside, the first sign of spring might be a patch of green daffodil spikes emerging from the sodden wintery fields. So pity us city dwellers, who, at this time of year, are severely dis-advantaged. I saw one small patch of snowdrops underneath the trees in Hammersmith Cemetery last week, hoofing through the gravestones to peer at them up close like a demented toddler. But within Zone 2 those of us without gardens have to make do with less conventional harbingers of the new season. On Saturday evening, with the mercury pushing 4C and rain falling in sheets, a young guy sat opposite me on the Piccadilly Line in shorts – his bare legs pale and goosebumped – and plimsolls without socks. Two girls in the same carriage, dressed up for a night out in the West End with their boyfriends, left their arms bare – a winter-time sight less common here than in the North. How glad they made me feel. Without any cues from nature, their white, pimply flesh is a sort of inner-city patch of daffodils.

Power to the Plastic

It's sad to discover the closure of places in London where you've spent memorable, happy hours. I've had two brilliant nights out at the matchbox-sized Hoxton nightclub Plastic People, including my 30th birthday, (probably making me a decade older than the average demographic). I can't say I was planning to make a return visit, but it's still sad to hear that Plastic People now faces closure. One of the main reasons the police want to shut it down is the discovery of cocaine traces in its toilets, which should suggest the imminent demise of every pub, club and restaurant in London. And where the police don't intervene, the recession steps in. At the weekend I also discovered that the antiquarian bookshop in the basement of Gray's Antique Market near Bond Street has vanished. Last time I visited, I was engrossed by, but failed to buy, a fantastic book of photographs from the Eighties of Wall Street traders at work, real-life "masters of the universe" with red telephones and fat moustaches. An empty space in the stalls now stands where the shop and that book once stood.

Enter moggy, stage left

Mice are having lots of fun in London. Although the House of Lords this week admitted to a serious mouse problem, officials ruled out electing some cats into the chamber, for fear of disrupting business. Three-quarters of West End theatres are also reportedly a-run with little rodents. The odd tortoiseshell moggie strolling around the stalls in the interval shouldn't interfere too much with theatregoers, and could even pass as an extra during performances of, say, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Cat in the Hat, The Mousetrap, The Lion King, or even Chicatgo, The Power of Puss, Cat Lear, The Moganthrope...