Is Olympic London the coolest place on the planet? Who better to ask than Donald Saddington. The renowned journalist is aged 57, lives alone in an isolated cottage in the Hebrides, and suffers from acute depression following the recent death of his wife.
Donald Saddington writes...
I emerge, blinking, at Dalston Kingsland Station following my long journey down from Scotland. I'm here to find out just how 'cool' London really is in this Olympic year.
The first things I see are banners erected by Hackney Council on the lampposts up and down the main drag. They read: "London 2012: Letz all f***in' smile!" and "London 2012: innit".
I'm met by Oulu Franchester-Hellcombe. "I'm an arbiter of cool - and a blogger!" she says, getting down off her penny farthing.
I ask her why she's towing a supermarket trolley filled with the bleeding torso of a man. "It's my boyfriend!" she chirrups with delight. "He's a poet! He hacked both his legs off this morning with a butter knife!" A groan comes from the trolley: "It's... cool..." he manages to gurgle. She nods.
Speechless, I retreat to the newsagents and buy a bar of Fry's Peppermint Cream to try and lift my mood.
Oulu leads me up the street to a new bar. She pushes her beau along in the trolley - it clatters as it rebounds off the frequent cracks, at one point almost dislodging the rubber duck perched on top of his head.
"Puppy Corpse!" she yells. We descend a flight of steps into the subterranean bar. The smell of rotting flesh makes me retch.
Ost Bahnhof, the barman at Puppy Corpse, tells me: "I'm a myxomatologist," before pouring the ingredients of a Negroni into an upside-down dog's head that has been hollowed out.
"Some people use jam jars or food tins for cocktails, but we've gone one stage further. It's cool..." says Bahnhof before retiring behind the counter. I hear some barks and some thumping noises, then silence.
I go upstairs. The bar's public relations consultant Melanie Liars is spreadeagled on the pavement munching on a huge concrete slab. "It's got lots of minerals in it!" she giggles.
I catch a ride in a flying car to the Olympic Park itself. A sign at the entrance reads: "We are very sorry but all the buildings here are sh*t".
On a pitch made from artificial grass about 100 men wearing blindfolds form a sweating mass - bumping and banging into each other. The ball is hoofed around without rhyme or reason.
One player tells me: "This is blind football - the coolest sport craze. It'll be in the next Olympics! I work in advertising. We all do!" before smashing his head on the goalpost and knocking himself out.
I take the Tube into Central London and check into a minimalist new hotel concept called Notel. "Are you foreign sir?" asks the receptionist politely. I joke that I'm Scottish and he smiles. "Why?" I ask. "If you're foreign we'll charge you £5000 more sir," he adds.
He shows me to my room in the basement. It is empty and windowless. "The Sybaritic Suite sir," he grins wryly. "But you only pay for what you need. A bed will cost an extra £100."
I lie on the concrete floor, thinking of my daughter. I ring her - but her phone goes to voicemail: "Hi! This is Isobel's voicemail! Leave me a message - or make me ROFL! Lots of LOLS!"
I order a pizza from room service. The hotel employee who delivers it tells me it's topped with "hand-scavenged samphire, human albumen, biodynamic grains, foam of house bricks."
I use the hotel's teleportation device to travel to Broadway Market and meet journalist Lara Crumble in her flat. "Tonight it's a pop-up speakeasy!" she shouts, before attacking a friend's hair with a cheese-grater. "Cheese-grating each other's hair is cool!"
Loud music thuds. A man crosses the room gingerly and leers at me - his face looks like it's about to slide off his head. He regains his composure and holds up a pineapple. "Shove it up your ar*e," he intones. "Shove it up your ar*e!" he says again - more insistently this time. "There's a stimulant in pineapples that really gets you going. I've got two up mine."
Out on the street, I collapse forlornly into a cross-legged mess. An injured bumble bee buzzes around in circles before slipping into a drain. I reminisce about sipping Grappa with my wife on our honeymoon as moonlight danced off the surface of Lake Como.
A pretty girl dismounts from a wallaby, ties it up, and plonks down next to me. "Awww you look sad," she purrs, taking a photo of me on her phone. The flash temporarily blinds me. "It's for my Tumblr about sad people!"
A young man joins us. He pulls out a pistol. "Granddad. New game for you," he babbles in plummy public school tones. "Russian Roulette. It's very much loaded. You want in, yeah? It's cool." I take the revolver, prod the cold steel barrel into my temple, and pull the trigger.
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