Geography vs Topology

As a pure mathematician with two (count them, two) O levels in Geography, I should be reasonably strong in both areas, but this has not always seemed to be the case. I think my brain stores information about places in a very topological fashion. As a result, when I was living in the north a few years back, when I had occasion to visit the south, I would arrive (almost) everywhere late. At some level, my brain had clearly decided that everywhere in the south-east was very close together and so I constantly under-estimated transit times between locations.

Of late, I have realised I still suffer from a similar disability with respect to London. Some places I assume to be central and easy to access, and others I assume to be very distant and too time consuming to ever visit. Into this category, fell most of east London – but then I visited the Arcola Theatre in Dalston and discovered this was less than 30 minutes by bus from 10 Greek Street and even closer to Liverpool Street station for my train home. Recent use of the London Overground (someone really has to build an interchange with the underground at Wimbledon Common) and a trip to Haggeston has shown that even more of the east is within easy walking distance of places I view as pretty central.

In the run up to Christmas, and as part of my plan to visit theatres outside the west end (usually cheaper, more intimate and with quirkier fare on offer), I decided to bite the bullet and go to the Bush Theatre. This lies in bosky Shepherd’s Bush which I have always considered to be a huge trek out of town. I soon discovered it was barely 20 minutes by Central Line from Liverpool Street (and only 15 from 10 Greek Street) – and so substantially easier to reach than many places I consider central and which I have been visiting for years. The Bush is very nice – with mulled wine and minced pies on offer in the interval (for the longer visit, the bar/café looked rather good and you get to sit in a library of plays to enjoy the victuals). The play, Straight, was extremely good – definitely in my top 5 of the year and the second play I saw in 2012 directed by Richard Wilson. The first, Lungs, was at Shoreditch Town Hall – another location much less remote than imagined – where I bumped into the great man himself (almost literally). I also found myself milling around before the play with the rest of the audience and standing next to Alan Rickman (and his wife) – so quite a day for celebrity spotting (though I do worry that I only recognise the more mature celebrity). Lungs was also pretty good, so I may have to keep an eye out for where Mr Wilson’s directorial hand falls next and I shall definitely try and engineer another visit out to the Bush!

Topology is sometimes called “rubber sheet geometry”, in which case I think my rubber sheet could so with some serious starching so that it more accurately represents the real world (rather than the one in my head). Maybe it’s time to risk a visit to a venue in South London?


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