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wise words

Louis Wise counts down to the return of his guiltiest London pleasures

Spring! It’s here, and without wanting to jinx anything, it feels like London is about to creep back to life, too. Yes, the time frame is still iffy, but Wise Words has always been a space for wide-eyed positivity, if not downright delusion, so here are some things I can’t wait to return to.

One: it was a law well-established pre-Covid that no Londoner could ever leave the house without returning, dazed, a few hours later, having spent a good £74 and not knowing how. Thanks to contactless, this is now easier than ever: you can literally wave your money away, wherever you go. ‘Is a bus REALLY that much?’ you may ask yourself later. ‘Why have I spent £34 on candlesticks?’ Quibbling is pointless, though. It’s just a tax on pleasure, you shrug. A tax on living.

Two: I read a lot about how much people can’t wait to hear live music again but — with respect to performers — it’s the gyms’ atrocious tinny house music I’m gagging for. I’ve spent a year at home trying to recreate it, yet frankly nothing beats the buzz of a Bodypump class set to 13 consecutive Chainsmokers’ remixes. Honestly, guys: save the arts!

Three: I’ve missed that mad-eyed, after-work shop dash, the one when you’re free from 5pm, your friend isn’t until 6, so you ‘pop into’ a shop (remember those?) and stagger out 20 minutes later carrying a gilet, a ‘witty’ T-shirt and some jeans in a cut you never knew existed. Half of my wardrobe is a product of this, and it was working before — right?

Four: what beats moral superiority on the Underground? Pre-Covid, one of my favourite things on the Tube was to tut at people not letting you off before getting on, not giving ladies of a certain age the chance to sit down and, of course, people reading the wrong paper. Though your pores may be clogging up with grime again, just bask in that sanctimonious inner glow. The mental health benefits are untold!

And, five? Maybe this is at odds with the morality thing but I can’t wait to see and be seen either, or what they used to call ‘checking people out’, enjoying all of London’s staggeringly attractive citizens. Obviously this is a sensitive topic in 2021 and respect and decency are a given, but whatever — I’m happy to be your sexy canary down that coal mine of lust. I’ve spent a year gazing gratefully at trees, and that’s enough.