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Charles' London Architectural Journal   #2

London Skyline London Panorama Meanderings of an Londoneering Castaway.
A series of Charles' occasional observations. He does go on a bit... Shuffling soon to a street near you.

July 2005 Oh no... London gets 2012 Olympics 
Just when I had finally found a way to possibly pay for that nasty ID card that were gonna be lumbered with, I find that i've got to cook my accounts to pay for these grotesque Olympic games that with now be London's last coffin nail in 7 years time. Maybe I should emmigrate before then. Yuk, more tourists, more people, and now a grand reason for more destruction to the areas theyve let run down for years. In a country that cant even look after it's own pensioners and elderly properly its amazing how much money they can find for government novelties like the Olympics. I was, of course, hoping we wouldnt get it, for finances sake, and for the good of whats left standing in London. Maybe the Stratford area would have been better graced with a new park or affordable housing, but then again, that only attracts the chav elements to congregate, so I suppose well have to put up with the sweaty sportsmen instead, plus all of their supporters. Why not? Will only cost a few Billion... Anyway, some better news is that the Camden Tube Station and Ballroom is saved - for now anyway, although London Transport probably are not finished with the project, and i'm sure have their sights on ruining the area. As ever, you just wonder how much of old beautiful London we have to destroy just to cater for extra bloated tourists?? I dont think that they realise that there is a balance to be maintained, but it's already gone to far. And then theres this regeneration madness, like for the Olympics, but it's also happening all around London, where areas are being flattened only so the developers can move in and make money out of nothing. Elephant & Castle is a prime example. This area works, but money men have master manipulated such venom against the present architecture, and now they have the Ok to pull it down. What a waste of money, and it really stinks. The developers and Housing companies all have their bids, aka bribes, in for the Elephant Shopping Centre which will disappear in 2010. What a shame. It all stinks even more than the Olympic bid and smug Seb Coe. Oh well, headlong into destruction, folks!

June 2005 Happy Days arent here again... 
Dear world, this is Charles calling, from the depths of the war zone known as London. And, whilst I have escaped with my life so far, I can spend time on my London journal and report to you thus. Well, it's one disaster after another, and I must say that whats mostly taken my notice this month is the very unsentimental refurb they are performing on the tube stations. Ok, so they let the decor rot for decades, but I dont think that it should give them the green light to tear everything down and retile it. Ive seen a lot of old fittings ripped out and replaced with a nice bit of formica, and old signs removed to make way for a slap of paint. Ghastly job. Theres also a lot of stone modelling, around tunnel entrances for instance, that has been scraped of and filed down. Dont they know it was decoration? This is a particular happening on the Northern line, Victoria Line, and others. Stuff thats been crafted and celebrated for well over 100 years is now in the bin. Some odd tiles are gone, cemented over, painted over. Not sympathetic at all. Just pathetic. The platforms and tunnels are as bright and aesthetic as Sainsburys. I was struck down with anger when I saw it. But what can I do? I guess I can just report it to you, dearest readers. Cheerio for now..

May 2005 This time, it's war 
War on the streets, actually, as the mob rules. It's been happening for years in London, where slowly but surely, the gangsters of the streets have taken control, and now roam with impunity, thanks to all the correctness that new controls the police. Every day now, good citizens are intimidated or pushed around, or maybe threatened and insulted. And thats only on street level. You just cant leave your home in London nowadays without being wary of what you might find. It's a kind of indirect violence nowadays, and you just have to get out of their way, and you know that there will be no protection afforded by the constabulary. There is just no saving us now. Thats another reason why London is finished. The safety and respect of it's good citizens has been destroyed. It's tragic. And it's not just youth either. It's various people of all ages acting like this. And one dare not say a thing. Related to this, and a slight sympton of it, is the chewing gum I see stuck to the pavement in thousands upon thousands of globules all over London. It is sickening. And yet again, applauded by some idiots as being a right of some. Just like the litter that drops nonchalantly from peoples hands these days, as if no concern at all is given to the increasing masses of road rubbish and disease. Yet again, this litter bugging is seen as cool from the now protected peoples of London, and they will not be told to act in a dignified way. The mob rules London, and our town is finished.

April 2005 Charles and Camilla 
A certain couple are getting tied in a few days, and it's all at our expense of course. This is where the money goes, rather than to shore up our decaying capital city. I hate reading about wasted money everywhere, and privatised services that make £zillions in profit, whilst the services they are supposed to provide, just deteriorate and die. But thats London for you. It's dying. Slowly it will be unrecognisable. I have almost given up working to save it. Because it's too late. And so I'm back to worrying over the old Routemaster Bus again, having seen a show on TV recently about it's unnecessary demise, and it's murder by it's former champion Red Ken Livingstone, the man who most saw as our protector, and now is just another level of government red tape that we have to pay hundreds of pounds for out of our council tax, and £zillions via the Kengestion charges, so Ken can spend it on Bendy Buses and and the decommissioning of the Routemasters. Isnt it funny that, at the eleventh hour of a victim's death, there is always this sudden concern by media, whereas, when there was a chance to save something, they were silent? This is the case with the Routemaster. As the last of our wonderful open platform conductorised masters of the road take to the streets for the last year of service, we see reporting at its worst and most impotent. Is everything beyond question until it's too late? The gagged media have blood on their hands.

Mar 2005 Overcast and overpaid 
As ever, London remains in the grip of Red Ken disease, and I dont think there is any salvation, thanks to the people who voted him back in. Well you cant blame me for that. I do occasionally blaspheme Ken's name in vain, well, a lot of the time really, especially when I see my beloved London slowly dissapearing in a haze of correctness and corruption. Only last week was I driven down an old London 'shortcut' only to find it cut off and paved over in the name of more pedestrianisation, and I thought "Damn that Ken!". I also read t'other day that our dear old lovable and expensive Black Cabs might go the way of the sad old Routemaster, and that, for the time being, a cheaper euro substitute (painted black) might be available. I would hate to see to much transformation here, although I do, in some ways, sympathize with the regulated Cabbies who have to drive through so much red tape just to earn a living, I mean, they have to fork out thousands just for the tools of their trade, when all us office workers need is a pen and a tie. Those salt of the earth chaps should get a free cab, in return for lower fares. I think Red Ken could fund my fiendish plan quite easily with some of his Kengestion Charge cash. Oh well, cheerio everybody!

Feb 2005 The ruination of London 
Ugh! I just read yesterday about the plans for Exhibition Road, that wide stretch of roadway outside the Science Museum. Oh dear, they want to pedestrianize it. Great idea, morons. Actually, they seems to have provided some room for cars into their blueprints, like two little lanes of single file. And no more parking. I suppose this is payback time, since the idiots had their brutalisation of the V&A turned down, possibly through lack of funds. Well lets hope this dumb scheme goes the same way. Exhibition Road is a fantastic wide route and pleasant area, I hope it wont be destroyed and turned into another plateau of tourist filth. Meanwhile, and in mostly the same area, the extension of the Congestion Charge is a nightmare eager to happen. Nothing but an evil money making scheme, it just adds to the persecution of motorists, already hounded by hundreds of sneaky Traffic Wardens and jobsworthy Policemen. Red Ken doesnt want to stop congestion... he welcomes it, just for the extra revenue. Another fraudulent act upon us good citizens. But where will it all end? To think what Ken takes in Council Tax for his madcap meddling, add it all up. Londoners are robbed in £millions of hard earned cash. Who will save us?

Jan 2005 Piggies crawling in the dirt 
Happy new year, all you fellow Londoneers, and everybody else in the whole wide world! First thing or chore of the new year was to buy another very expensive tube ticket from Red Ken's nasty Tfl quango, and I exclaimed the phrase urgggh! when I saw the new prices, well above inflation. This was certainly not Fares Fare. The cheek of putting anything up above inflation! One shouldnt have to pay to prop up the PPP. Where's the extra investment? Damn them all to hell. Anyway, got on a 'Bendy' today, only because the usual Routemaster for that route has been put in the crusher. The Bendy Bus is well known now as the 'free' bus, as you can get on at the back door, and no-one asks for a ticket. I must have been the only one on there who had bothered to pay up. Many people fail to notice this scam, still fumbling with those awful ticket machines they've put next to bus stops which, if they work, allow you to buy a ticket as the bus is pulling away without you. Great... Anyway, this time there actually were inspectors on this Bendy, three ladies with piggy faces, acting like jobsworth police constables, bleating their ghastly superscilious blurb, looking down at the poor criminalised passengers with an insinuating eye. Why do this type always have piglet faces? They inspected my ticket as if it were a bag of high grade heroin. Didnt believe it was real, and were extremely disapointed when it was found to be a proper Tfl extortionately expensive ticket. Dont you just love em? And yet Red Ken prefers this charade of piggies and fare evasion and exploding Bendies above retaining the master of the road, the Routemaster Bus. What an absolute blackguard that Ken is. Oh well, Happy New Year, everyone!

Dec 2004 Leaning on the Lamppost 
Ugh... London is dominated by this 'Chav' culture and all that goes with it. What lowlife we have to suffer in this once graceful capital. Bring back the victorians I say! Rather than todays violent oikish individuals in burberry baseball hats. London has lost itself to the ignorant street attitude of the Chav. Otherwise, some good news emerges over the vulgar plans for the V&A. They could be off, as no-one will cough up the cash for those awful boxes they were going to build. Thank heavens! I see too that the Elephant Mall was getting a paint job. Does this mean that there's a slight stay of execution? Hope so, as it's such a great community. Meanwhile, the bad news - Smithfield's buildings are still threatened, and there are legal moves from the speculators. Oh dear. Worse still, is what I see happening to the Chalk Farm Roundhouse, a spectacular old building, that, like most relics, needed preservation on it's innards as well as exterior. Unfortunately I passed by recently to see it gutted and torn apart. Obviously, someone has typically decided that there is only value in its facade. How utterly stupid. I pity the poor Roundhouse, for in its natural state it happily staged many great events in the Sixties and Seventies, a very happy venue, and should never have closed. But now the game is truly over, and the place is a bombsite. I guess they might just keep the shell. But how about the famous vaults? The victorian fittings? I'm very angry about this. Damn them all to hell!

Nov 2004 Tale Of One City 
Greetings, London lovers. November already. And it came to pass that I glanced over the newspapers and noticed that the Baltic Exchange sale is up and running. Yes, that lovely building that got demolished so that London might have its new (and very empty) Gherkin office block. Well, they did promise us that faithful rebuild, but now, all of the bricks, mortar, and fittings are going for the highest bidder. One can bid for a bit of history, and remember what could have been, had the speculators not won again. They said that, suddenly, it could not be rebuilt. The money' not there. And then I hear that, from out of a hat, the government will find £500m to fund the Olympics 2012. Oh crikey, thought I. That's one fiasco i'm not looking forward to. Keep the Olympics in Greece, where they belong. I wanted my beloved Baltic back...

Oct 2004 Grief is the price we pay for love 
Hi everyone. September has passed, and it was that time again, where we remember the fallen of September Eleventh, now all of three years ago. I made the trip to the remembrance gardens outside London's American Embassy, where I paid respects to the peoples and buildings that the world lost. It's always an moving sight, to see grieving relatives, arm in arm, devastated in the loss of their loved ones, and the impact of this day was quite clear on them. I withdrew to the Roosevelt statue, and within the barricades and amongst armed police, I remained for a while.

Sept 2004 Un-Fares Please 
Aarghhh! I'm really angry, believe it or not. And this time i'm not gonna blame that nice man Red Ken. Or maybe I will anyway. It's this Routemaster saga. Like most deaths of London's beloved traditions, it's a slow death, and agonising death, which is played out in full view of the tax paying public. Yes, as with all good shambolic deaths, we're paying for it. And whilst our wonderful Routemasters are ground into the dust, like this month on the route 73, we have to stand by and watch, and see the ghastly replacement bendies stroll in and take over. It's just like a nightmare, seeing the great RM's pushed out for this Eurotrash. Surely this can't be happening. All this, just so they don't have to hire and pay proper bus conductors, for this is one criterion for the killing of the RM. The other being that Ken, in his impish imperial magnificence, can banish the good old Routemaster in favour of bring in more Euro-nasties, therefore making London look like any other Euro-city. Hell, he's even beginning to look like Stalin these days. Well, I'd just like to inform the new Joseph that I got stuck on one of those bendies the other day. Right in the middle of a jam it was, although with it's size, this bendy WAS the jam. For fifteen minutes we waited for this accident to clear, and would the driver let me off? No - we weren't at a proper bus stop. Great. Second hand Routemaster, anyone? As if that wasnt enough, some poor poor poor disaffected youths started smashing the seats up in boredom. And these same wonderful disaffected youths started a fight with the fragile and less able passengers who complained of their horrid vandalism. Poor poor disadvantaged and disaffected youths... Ahhhhh, bless 'em

August 2004 Walking backwards for Christmas 
I knew it would happen, dear readers, as once upon a time I advanced in earnest towards one of London's beloved Underground escalators, and all at once I found myself trapped in a crowd of wonderful tourists, together trying to mount said escalator, and yet being held back by the phenomenon we see daily: someone with moving stair fright. Oh no, it was another tourist walking backwards, not wanting to get on the escalator for fear of a violent death. Finally, she got on, blocking the width of the stair, holding back the masses. It was only now that I realised.... she would do the same routine at the bottom of the escalators, they always do! But with many people bunched up behind, trouble would surely ensue. I became ready to jump, for as we hit the bottom, said lady did indeed walk backwards. Passengers began to pile on top of her, and I had to fight my way through. I heard screams, but this time there were no injuries. I saw people punch their way out rather than end up on the floor. Happens every day in London, dearest readers. Anyway, apart from that, I must air my displeasure at missing out on one of London's finest events, missing it through lack of prompting, lack of attention. Only now do I read of a massive Routemaster Bus day in Finsbury Park. Why didnt I hear of it? I was only doing gardening that day! Damn, I hate missing important events, me wanting so bad to save the Routemaster. Oh dear, what could I do? Strange event though, celebrating 50 years of Routemasters on the same day that the government had decided to destroy them! What a depressing thought... Personally, as always, I blame that wonderful chap Red Ken. Why doesnt he get a public flogging? I'd definately pay to attend that. Ah well, cheerio, readers.

The London Destruction Website.