There are some places in London you should never, ever go to. And one which lies about having elephants and/or castles should definitely be high up on that list.
This nightmarish mishmash of roundabouts, subways and gloom has been plonked right in the middle of London but is studiously avoided by most, who are wisely untrusting of its intentions.
Here are five reasons never to go to Elephant and Castle:
1. The Ungodly Smell
Take a short tour around this marvellous web of roundabouts and you may notice a certain whiff. “What is it?” You will wonder to yourself as you gallantly attempt to negotiate a tangled web of pedestrian crossings which can only have been designed as some sort of macabre death game. It is the smell of hopelessness. Of sighs. Of depravity. And also of fried chicken.
2. The Strata Tower
One bedroom flats in this monstrous thing go for 800k, which is pretty good going for a giant tower voted Britain’s ugliest new building. It’s won a Carbuncle Cup and everything. People nominated it for its ‘plain visual grotesqueness’ and ‘Philishave stylings’. One person even moved out of the area because the sight of it made him FEEL ILL.
3. The Frighteners
Regeneration is big news in Elephant and Castle at the moment. Planners and developers are enthusiastically trying to wipe out the area’s current inhabitants to make way for a better breed of cappuccino-drinking suits. But they haven’t quite succeeded, as is evident from the continued presence of a troop of people we shall call ‘the frighteners’. These terrible beings lurk in alleyways, gulping on cans of lukewarm white lightning, staring. One chased me the other day. It was 8:30am.
4. The Subway
Have you ever tried to negotiate a spaghetti junction many miles beneath the ground in near pitch-darkness with only a foul smell and a vague, often completely wrong sign to guide your way?
If not you must head to Elephant, and fast. This subway is like a magical puzzle game made of fun. There are around 85 tunnels, they all look completely identical and half of them aren’t even joined on to the other ones so sometimes its entirely IMPOSSIBLE to find your way out of there alive.
5. The Shopping Centre
A shopping precinct so ugly that many cannot bear to look upon it, this hot-pink monstrosity has repeatedly won awards for its sheer shitness. Within it are a handful of shops you’d never want to go into, and also a Tesco where the shelves are completely bare, which is just as well because the shop assistants are too distraught to serve anyone anyway.