Meanderings of an Londoneering Castaway.
A series of Charles' occasional observations. He does go on a bit... Shuffling soon to a street near you.
Maybe it's because i'm a Londoneer
For about the zillionth time, dear readers, I got driven off the pavement by one of those smarmy grinning charity workers who dance and chat at you and stand in your way, trying to catch your attention in a horrid non-charitable fashion. I would have thought that since the wonderful expose about them in the Evening Standard, these pests would be brutalised and stoned off our streets. How rude these creeps are, they wont even take a hint, as if you ignore them they become ruder.
Howdy London lovers. Blimey, it's June already, and time for an explosive round of Euro (ugh) 2004. It's the only Euro i'm interested in, and I wish our chaps well in Portugal. I look forward to the pulsating entertainment, viewing the football from one of London's great old ale houses, whilst supping my good olde jug of ale. Yes folks, it's the wonderful game that brings us otherwise warring Londoners together, each of us draped in the same flag, wearing the same three lions on our shirts. Otherwise, it's been a funny old year. I saw this prog on the tele sprouting masterful comments about the cons of listing buildings. This chap, dare he say that he hated olde architecture, seemed to think that the listing system stopped him and his buddies from rampant destruction of all of London's heritage in order for his new modern disasters to take their place. Oh dear, how upset was he that listed buildings were protected and slightly safe from his putrid hands. This mans name? Well, i've seen him around. He's not really worth a mention. Looks like Robert Winston, but isnt. I'm sure he'd like London to completely look like the present Euston Station. Thankfully, he's been almost stopped in his bulldozer tracks. Sadly, the rest of us are well aware that a listing is not a failsafe prevention method to save our buildings. Too many former listings have been ground into dust. No thanks to our lords and masters who should protect and serve. Speaking of which, it's mayoral election time again, that surchargable venture upon our council tax bills, that layer of government we dont need and can't afford. Here it comes again. Nothing but trouble and juvenile bickering. Not even worth a spoilt vote. Trash the whole concept, I say. London ran well for 20 years without it. What a waste of my money.
Ah, there you are. Good morning world, and a special hello to all fellow Londoneers, as we brave yet another day in the midst of these wardens and the like who might terrorise London's motorists with a climate of fear. One travelling out in one's motor just doesnt know what will happen next and whether one will be conned into a fine by parking or speed camera or congestion charge failure. The papers are full of horror stories of what false penalities are dished out to the motorist. These are criminal acts of lies and deception in order to extort money from people and make a car journey too scarey to make. I cant understand why the police dont arrest the Mayor and his managers for what they are doing. It's just plain corruption in my eyes, but Londoners are just complaining and paying up. What a wierd state of affairs. In the meantime, i've just got back from a walk through the Barbican estate. How brilliant it is, and how amazing that a housing estate can be so peaceful, what with its fountains and flowers and quietness. No noise or vandalism, people even greeted me with a hello. It's a shame that council estates can't be similar shrines to good behaviour. One could quote me reams of socialogical reasons, but it's still a shame. But it was great to see decorum in action. I like the overall layout of the Barbican anyway, with it's winding zany sixties structure, and I hope it doesnt become a greater target of hate by our many resident developers.
Hell Bent on Destruction
It's been a delight, dear readers, to read about those rediculous 'Bendy Buses' which have, in recent months, been clogging up our poor mismanaged London streets. They're the dumbest idea yet, these double length jokes consisting of two single deck buses, stitched together with an accordion shaped connector. An impossible contraption for these small London roads, and so taking up twice the roadspace. If they wanted extra capacity, why not just build more Routemasters? But no. These creeps are in denial. The Mayor and co would rather employ these stupid bendy things than bring the classic Routemaster off the death row. I laughed loud when I saw these Bendies at bus stops, blocking the use of these stops with their absurd length, edging out the desperate buses behind that were trying to maneuver around the Bendy. What a farce. I laughed even louder when I read that these Bendies are now blowing up. Yes, actually just combusting up and burning down whilst in service. Well Ken? Will you now consider a return to Routemasters, Mister Marvellous Mayor? Or have you got any more bendy ideas? My Routemaster Buses Page
Went for a ride on the dear olde number 12 bus, a very great London experience, that, even in this freezing weather, was a very cosy ride, thanks to that great Routemaster Bus technology and comfort. Can it really be, that our statesmen want to wipe out this fantastic piece of machinery? Oh no, it's that Red Ken again, and all his Europhiliacs, that want to make London look exactly the same as everywhere else, snuffing out the memories of traditional London. Worse than this, however, is the recent appearance on our streets of these Bus Ticket machines, a desperate attempt to compensate for the lack of conductors on the 'New' Buses. To see the poor public forced into this is a sad sight to observe. I saw a tourist, screamed at by an inspector to get off the 'New' Bus and use the machine, which she did, as the said Bus drove off without her. What a charade this is. Proving once again, you cant beat the old Routemasters, and you cant replace the Bus Conductor. My Routemaster Buses Page
Not on your Nile
Oh well, must soldier on. For what else is there, but to just carry on regardless? In these sad old days, I visited the Landmark hotel, for a spot of G&T, and once again enjoyed that palmed oasis, right on the edge of the West End. With the piano playing in the background, it was like being back on the Cataract veranda. Such a relaxing setting. And what a fantastic setting it is, larger than life itself. It's not many atria that a lower class citizen might access, and this one is extra special. After that, I must add that my trip into town was thence rather soured by an unfortunate glance upon those new open air Urinals. What a sickening sight, how demented might any man be to use such a vulgar uncivilised appliance. I had to write about it... My London's Toilets Page
Fleet Street Journal
Ah, my beloved Fleet Street, where once the printing establishment crossed swords with the legal profession amongst the architecture of ye olde London. And still do, to some degree, although so many Newspapers have now fled, cutting the heart out of this cute community. It still looks the same at night, as the street slopes down towards the Fleet River valley, and then up again to meet the strikingly superb Cathedral. They've even kept the important facades, like the Express and Telegraph, and Bank of England. But it's the lifeblood that is missing, where for hundreds of years this was the centre stage of the world's media and gossip, it's now quite silent, and by early evening it's a relative ghost town. As ever, developers are moving in and slowly eroding the historic construction, but so much is left, and Fleet Street still really impresses with it's beauty and secret alleyways, all under the spiring shadow of the grand old Journalist's Church. And then there's the prettiest pubs of all, punctuated by the hack's favourite, The Cheese. Yes, the dear olde Cheshire Cheese, not now so much full of old soaks, but of the slightly soberer sect, winding down by creepy candlelight. The Cheese was still like home, and a great end to a happy visit. Time to settle down by the fire, and 'neath the portraits, have yet another pint of Ale. Splendid!
Canary Wharf City - My Kinda Town
Went out east to the City of Tiny Lights. Yes folks, there I was, at clocking out time, 5pm around London's satellite metropolis, for a frolicking friday night out. This former Isle of Dogs swamp of warehouses and mudchutes is now a christmas tree of shiny shimmering futurism in the cold dark of Autumn, and I was so excited by the sight. I can well remember, back in the eighties, when I stood looking down into the ugly pit - this was to be the main foundations of the big tower. Now it's a super village of class and dominant design, of people and bars, of little cute landscaped gardens. I thought it awesome, almost as good as Vegas, and a welcome destruction-free addition to London. I love the glowing bridges and secret passages, and everywhere - power and lights, reflecting into the water clad canalways that are Canary's life blood. And on most corners, a bar or pub of calm distinction and wine supping supplement. I ended up in a nice novel water hole, 'Davy's', an oldie type establishment fashioned from the base of a mighty techno office block, but interiored to look like favourable Dickensian splendour. Here, I downed a corkingly great pint of Ale. By jove, that went down well!
Betrayal at Battersea
I'm reading recently about how bad a state poor Battersea Power Station has become, even being put on the dangerous structures listings by some institutions. Danger of total collapse, maybe? It's not surprising, having it's roof and windows torn out for many many years. This level of sickening neglect has left this fantastic world famous monument riddled with damp and crumbling foundations. What an awful shame. 20 years have past since the station was closed down, and what have they done in all that time. Why tear off the roof, its only protection from elements? There's been a certain amount of vandalism too, but the owners seem to have committed much worse acts of damage with their careless dithering. Yesterday, I passed close by, looking from the low level train to peckham, and found this collosal beauty still glorious and stunning. But it now creaks with a brittle diseased core, and has been purposely left to rot.
|11 Sep 2003||
I had to make my pilgrimage to the US Embassy in London, where, under the giant Golden Eagle, and amongst the heavy police presence, I could reflect on the loss of life and buildings 2 years ago. Not being a VIP, I was banished to the Eisenhower Figure, where we all congregated in sorrow. A lady quietly crept up, and slowly and delicately, she put down her lovely little white basket of orange flowers at the statue's base. She then slowly, and silently, just wandered away without a word, having made her contribution to the vunerable sweet offerings that lay there, all fluttering in the chilled eerie breeze.
Poor David Blaine is just a target for the horrid crowds that arrive at London's Tower Bridge to ruin his vacation. It must be just like being in the Stocks in medieval times, when people threw cabbages at figures of fun. I wonder if he was treated such disdain on his similar USA installations? Poor chap looked really fed up. I was going to ask his team to raise the box to a more secure height. And for someone to buy him a bag of chips. I mean, without food or TV, whats the point of living?
Busking in the Sun
I'm glad to see that London Underground have gone to great lengths to set out Busker's pitches in various stations. Now it's more regulated, there will be no excuse for musos to haunt the tube carriages and scream songs to their captive audience. I also think this move will raise the standards of what we hear. I even bought a tape from one Busker, so moved was I by the music. Yes. Little Edwige sang like a songbird and left a big grin on our faces. Marvellous.
Even wider M25
Just when you thought it was safe to venture into the greenbelt, some overpaid whitehall jobsworth has decided to wreck even more greenery for the sake of this ever widening spectacle. If they really want more capacity, they should try building upwards. Works fine in LA, unless there's an earthquake, that is. A nice 3-tiered Freeway, plenty of room for everyone. On the other hand, why does no-one understand that, with too many people in the UK, there will never ever be enough roads. Where will it all end?
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
What a fantastic blueprint we have here. A principal to reshape and rectify the building wrongs of London. Why not rebuild replicas of every ruined and wrecked masterpiece that once graced London? This is a great realisation, rebuilt after hundreds of years, crafted to ancient specifications, but with more modern toilets. The Globe is a marvellous setting, and I enjoyed the structure as much as the play. But it did get me thinking. We could reincarnate all of our losses in this way. We could build a new Euston Arch tommorow. Oh what joy!
Only recently discovered some photos showing that thier premier store near Centre Point used to be a Lyons Corner House. And how wonderful the old facade is. Collosal stone shopfront, decorated all the way up to the roof. Marvellous. It's a shame that the innerds are trashed. Imagine the CD's housed in a nice quiet panelled victorian tearoom setting, much better than this ugly sickening hellhole Virgin have made. I remember there was a nice underground Cinema here up until around 1993. Now this row is the worst of fast food and loudness, save for a lovely old tearoom facade. Definatly worth checking out from outside Waterstones opposite.
Victoria Bus Shelter
What a marvellous site to behold since they smashed up that stupid shelter that obliterated the front view of Victoria Train Station. So great to see the facade without that horrible lump of steel spoiling things. And whatever protection did that canopy afford anyway? I remember that thing when it first went up, supported by the usual fanfare and speeches as being such a gleaming marvel. What rubbish! Good riddance. Long live Victoria's de-masked magnificence!
Alfredos Cafe, Islington
I made the trip to see that old fried up friend, expecting the worst since its shut down a few years ago. But lo and behold, it was re-opened, less a few noteworthy items. Was I happy? Sorry, no. To find Alfredos renamed 'S&M' is a sad sight, let alone the trashing of the original yellow Alfredos shop sign. Undoubtedly, ANY changes to this place would be a mistake, and there's been too much stuff ripped out for my liking. Despite saving some features of the Deco displays, its been ruined for me. They might as well have gutted the place and been done with it. My Cafes page
Arsenal Tube Station
Its taken me this long to notice the desecration of those cute tiled signs on the outer tube walls. How jolly that one pointed in the direction of Hammersmith, and one to Cockfosters, only to be chiselled into extinction to make way for its more tin plated replacement. Shameful.