Forget fifty romantic places to woo your lover, this is an indispensable guide to the places to drown your sorrows in London town, either in solitude or with other members of your #Break-UpClub… especially on this most bleak and pointless of days.
Readers, if you’re single on Sunday or worse, newly single, take comfort. London is a city full of heart – even when yours is broken. As someone who has just written a book that takes a merry dance through the darkest and cosiest nook and crannies of our city, I would love to be your tour guide. So, here we go.
(1) One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Park, SE23
Literally, the flip-side to the view from the top of Primrose Hill. Swap smug marrieds and sprogs for the birdsong and casual dog-walkers of One Tree Hill. It may sound like a half-baked American teen drama, but it’s actually a lovely spot flanked by cemeteries, to remind you of the fragility of life and shove everything into perspective. Watch the sun set on your relationship in peace in this well-kept secret in South East London. Makes Parliament Hill look cheesy, and is far enough away from everything to give you the distance you need to heal.
(2)The Breakfast Club Angel, N1
Take a slow brunch at the cosiest little food-nest, and an 80’s time-warp in all the right ways. Fuck Disneyland: this is the happiest place on earth. You cannot be depressed about having had your heart ripped through your bum – in here, while surrounded by all the warm Eightees nostalgia and pancakes with bacon, banana and maple syrup.
(3) Theobalds Park Camping & Caravanning, Waltham Cross, EN7
Go on holiday by mistake, at this eerie campsite in Waltham Cross, barely twenty minutes from Liverpool Street. An excellent place to dance in the rain next to some trees, static caravans and a stagnant canal called The New River, that is ‘neither new, nor a river’, according to its plaque.
At Theobalds Park, incomparable vistas vy for your attention – a dual carriage way here, a Slough-esque trading estate there. And if you’re lucky you’ll be able to jump around on an old abandoned fence like it’s a trampoline. ‘The Real #Break-UpClub’ spent a few days there in a badly-equipped tent from Lidl. It turned out to be one of the best weekends of our lives, and inspired a whole chapter in Reader, I Dumped Him. There may have been copious booze consumed though. So don’t attempt to go there without at least a crate’s worth.
(4) The Big Red – Holloway N7
The pub where nobody knows your name. Lower your expectations as low as they can get, and you shan’t be disappointed. The Real BUC also go there in the book, but they renamed it The Big Blue, which seemed more apt.
(5) Feeling Gloomy, N1 and WC1
Club Night in Soho, WC1 and Angel, N1 – Lose yourself to New Romantic classics, from the 80s and 90s, to songs which sound happy, but they are LYING. This is unsung club night spins tunes which are euphoric and melancholic in equal parts. From The Cure to The Smiths, you’ll be able to cry and jump around at the same time, and ‘reclaim’ any songs lost in the break-up vortex. (if you don’t know what a reclaim is, you’ll need to read the book I’m afraid)
(6) Swing Patrol, Lindy Hop dance lessons, all over London
Swinging out is the best way to get over a break-up. You simply cannot be depressed about your failed relationship when you’re being twirled around to Ella Fitzgerald by a sweaty stranger, in a room full of other sweaty but ecstatic strangers, led by two even-more-perky Australians in headsets.
(7) The British Film Institute, SE1
Not only is it right on the beautiful South Bank, so you can walk over the bridge and stare moodily out at the river before you get there, but the BFI boasts a best-kept secret called The Mediatheque, where you can binge-watch movies old and new, for free, from the privacy of your own booth. Look, even the Queen’s cottoned on!
If you’re lucky you’ll be able to watch some of the old movies and TV shows featured in this montage of break-ups. Bargain! Don’t miss out.
(8) The Serpentine Lido
For evening booze picnics, followed by a sudden bracing dip in the 7 degree waters, clothed or otherwise. Nothing like a short, sharp shock to the system to wash away the old memories of your once-perfect-but-now-laid-to-rest relationship. And it’s a cold hard medicinal fact that wild-swimming cures melancholia. But more on that another day.
(9) Scrap all that. Hide indoors with friends, and have a Palentine’s Party.
You could also do none of the above on Sunday. Another very sensible option is to batten down the hatches, stock up on booze and cheese, and hide out with your mates ’til it’s the 15th. Friends are the best – especially when you’re fresh from a conscious un-coupling. This is going to sound pathetic but ‘The Real BUC’ and I once played a game of ‘Secret Cupid’ where we each composed anonymous poems and wrote them in Valentine’s cards, then had to guess who wrote them. Like Secret Santa, only sillier, and with much more vodka. One of them began ‘Love is a funny thing… it sometimes ends up, in the bin.’
With that in mind I’d like to wish you all a very #HappyPalentinesDay
Relationships come and go, but good friends are for life!