Actually let’s start this one at the other end and assume Oxford Street is your goal in either direction.
- Begin at Tottenham Court Road tube, currently shrouded in building tarpaulins. Out of action, no one is sure how to negotiate this vital crossroads any more: has is changed how Londoners navigate their city?
- Find your way through a twisty passage from Oxford Street (the wrong one may take you into a dead-end alley round the back of a postal sorting office) to Rathbone Place. If it’s the right time of day stop at Bourne & Hollingsworth where you can drink gin out of teacups or, if you prefer, jam jars.
- Walk up Charlotte Street, past the restaurants. Decide where to dine later – even if you’re too busy or too strapped for cash – it’s just window-shopping. Despite the shiny plate glass, There’s something about Charlotte Street that remains in the late 1940s, the street’s heyday period as a mecca for artists and writers, when the Fitzroy Tavern defined the area by lending out its name.
- Just before you get to Goodge Street tube, take a left into Goodge Street. Though this is now mainly smart restaurants there’s a good charity shop on the left.
- Notice the excellent bike lanes marked out in green with minimal street furniture which have been found just as effective as a lot of intrusive signage.
- Continue into Mortimer Street past the currently empty site of the old London Eye Hospital and check out the latest stage in the double-dip-stalled development. I remember were some medical ghost ads on the walls round here but the last time I walked down the street I couldn’t find them. Perhaps they have been knocked down.
- As the road widens into a backstreet boulevard, pass odd shops: a lamp emporia; bathroom fittings merchants – all staggeringly expensive and improbably niche. Newsagents sell high-fashion magazines in every language.
- Turn down any side street and you’ll still find fashion wholesalers, relics of the garment district, vending lines with names that seem linguistically generated to –not entirely successfully – evoke a ‘designer’ feel.
- Turn down Portland Place past Eric Gill’s sexually controversial relief murals on the BBC building, and rejoin the flow of the crowd that has no idea of what exists just a block behind the main thoroughfare. You’re at Oxford Circus!