The next time chatter about belt-tightening and public-sector cuts gets me down, I'll know what to do. Walk the Eurotrash trail. It's a short tour of west London that allows one to forget for a while that this country is teetering on the brink of double-dip destruction.
A friend who lives in Berlin had come over for the weekend. He wanted a break from the cool, cheap, excellent quality of life which that city offers, so I took him on a social safari around SW3; the tour's name comes from its population of almost exclusively continental rich kids, with the odd Arab thrown in as one advances towards Knightsbridge.
We started at South Kensington tube, and over Brompton Cross, taking in the expensive clothes shops, all of which appear to be under the impression that it's 27C outside (transparent, short-sleeved blouse, anyone?). The route then takes in the stucco houses of Sydney Street, past Chelsea Farmers' Market, to The King's Road, before looping around Peter Jones and up Sloane Street to Harvey Nicks.
It took about 90 minutes by foot, but would take longer if, like so many men we saw on Saturday, you insist on riding it in your lilac supercar, creeping along in the traffic at 3mph and revving your ridiculous engine.
I'm guessing that the route is different every time, but on this occasion, highlights included: the gay wedding party on the steps of Chelsea Town Hall; King's Road Oxfam, where one can find the most glamorous cast-offs in town; Peter Jones's sparkling and free loos.
This is London as lived by the handful of mega-rich, youthful residents for whom the words "banking crisis" means missing the Swissair flight to Zurich. It's another world.
Megadeth's always with us
Another recommended social safari is an evening at heavy metal pub The Intrepid Fox. For many years the Fox attracted its bearded, intriguingly pierced constituency (not to mention the Sex Pistols and others) to a site on Wardour Street. In 2006 it closed and the building now hosts a burger restaurant. But on Friday, by accident, I discovered where the Fox had gone: into a suitably ugly building next to Centre Point. Time doesn't touch this crowd. What's the difference between a Megadeth fan circa 1994, and the same man in 2010? 50 pence on his pint of Guinness. That's it.
The empty space
Tate Modern is a wonderful place if you can get there mid-morning on a Monday. Until this week, I'd never seen the gallery so empty of crowds, and was able to look at the paintings rather than the backs of several heads. Two new shows, on the US painter Arshile Gorky, pictured, and one exploring Dutch art movement De Stijl, both explode with colour and abstract ideas, the ideal antidote to miserable, wet days.Reuse content