Welcome to Piccadilly Circus.

First, a brief introduction.

Not many know it, but underneath the streets of London there is another world. Those who are aware of its existence call it London Below. It is a strange and often surreal place that is partly composed of the Tube system and the city's other subterranean networks. Its population is vast and varied, ranging from friendly giants to beautiful and vampiric sirens. It is also home to those who were born in London but fell through the cracks in society. London Below, whilst having its risks, is a far more accepting place than the cold commercial world above.

As with all places, London Below has some rather bizarre quirks, the most notable being the Tube stations and their names. At Blackfriars you will find a monastery of black hooded monks, and if you are foolish enough to venture to Shepherd's Bush you will want to watch out for the shepherds - they are a less than hospitable bunch.

This brings us nicely to our current location, Piccadilly Circus. There has been a circus here for as long as anyone can remember. The performers may come and go, fading out of public memory over time, but the circus stays. It is located in a vast cavern, just below the pavements. If you look towards the roof you will see a handful of air vents letting in some light from the world above, and if you listen carefully you may hear the gentle rumble of trains on the Piccadilly and Jubilee lines, but other than that there is little sign of the 'normal' world. The cave walls and the rim of the floor are littered with candles, gas lamps and once discarded electric lights powered by a 'vintage' generator. Although these flood the space with a warm glow, the roof of the cavern is in perpetual darkness but for small beams of dim light that trickle in through the grated streets.

The Big Top stands proudly in the centre of this huge arena. At one time it was a traditional red and white tent, but over time there have been renovations and it is now a rich patchwork tapestry, slightly worn but evidently much loved. Surrounding this focal point is The Meadow, a large field not of grass but of a hardy moss that has adapted to the lack of sunlight. It forms a lush green carpet that is almost as big an attraction as the circus itself.

A section of The Meadow is reserved for the troupe of circus performers. It is here that we can find the subjects of this story.

When you see Tigerlily sprawled out on the moss (which is greener here than anywhere else), gazing at the lights speckling the walls as though they were stars, you know that Ophelia, her twin sister, is somewhere nearby. It is probable that she is sat in a cosy corner of their caravan, reading by candlelight. Their young friend √Čtoile, once an urchin on the street of Paris, can usually be found in the animal enclosure, whispering to the lions or trying to teach the parrots French. If you visit the fortune teller's tent you will meet Svetlana, an elegant woman full of secrets and as cool as a Moscow winter. She will read your future, if you are brave enough. You needn't look for Lenore. She will probably find you and will most definitely let you know who is in charge. Don't forget a polite bow or curtsey when she introduces you to Mister Jinks. He is a very important cat you know.

I will leave you to better acquaint yourself with the performers. We do hope that you visit us again. There is always something new and exciting at Piccadilly Circus. Just last week we had a singing kipper.