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Charles' London Architectural Journal 2008

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.
December 2008 Food Glorious Food 
Ok you wonderful people of the world, this is Charles writing to you once again from dear old London Town. And out of my window: Construction sites galore. Our fair city remains in the shadow of doomdom. Still, I'm alright Jack, just got back from my trip to New York City, and just love the way that mostly that city seems to hang on to a lot of it's old architecture, unless you consider Penn Station. I made my pilgimage to Ground Zero and sat in sadness there for hours. Otherwise I enjoyed that beautiful place and thanks to all you New Yorkers who were so nice to me. Wow! So many old lobbies still retain their 1930's feeling, and the subway is fantastic with so many original fittings. Can never understand why there is a gap around the toilet door though? I sat there doing my thing whilst other men looked through the gap at me... This cant be happening!

So it's back to the London subway, which is more chaotic, more rude than ever. Trying to get off the train in rush hour is the fun bit, with other commuters refusing to move. Then when you get to the door area, there's a bunch of people laying seige to the doorway, not giving way to you, or worse, trying to get on as you get off. It is an amazing site. Humans? What's wrong with them? Leaving the station, the usual suspects queue behind ticket holders, waiting to sneak through on your ticket. I usually run through the barriers, and gloat gleefully when I hear the barriers close sharply on the fare dodger behind me. Tee-hee.

This week I hit London's Selfridges store again, the store as I often say, do not just sell fridges, but a lot of things. The exterior of the building is mostly shrouded in scaffolding. They have made such effort to keep the scaffold off the pavement level, so that the scafford is actually supported by a cheap little array of wall bolts. Bars and tubes come out at 45 degrees to hold up a battlement of metal. It all looks rather unsafe. Inside, the Selfridges of old is mostly no more, but gutted and painted white, but not as badly gutted as the old Whitelys store in Queensway, but this is bad enough. Remnants of old lay in the form of massive columns that rise up through the escalators, the roof of which seems to still have it's 1930's design intact. Other old relics include most of the doors and stairwells, and of course the old lady above the front entrance. I can only guess that there are more old interiors behind the scenes, so it might be worth getting a job there just to explore by flashlight. Otherwise, the building had been ruined. Modernisation: Who needs it...

Oh well, I'm going out now to enjoy the fruits of the lower VAT rates, and buy some junk from my favourite store Woolworths, in a vain hope to save it. Tax breaks? It's all a con. "Tax doesnt have to be taxing" said that idiot on the radio. What an idioto. Cheerio everyone, and thanks for reading my journal.

November 2008 Rocket Science 
Hello everyone, and thanks for tuning in. Right now, I'm in a London internet cafe, you know the type of place where everyone acts appallingly and like animals. Litter everywhere, unwashed hands onto computer keyboard, people who remove their shoes & socks in public places: That kind of thing. Someone behind me just pushed their chair into mine. She sat down and yawned with outstretched hands, one of which slapped the back of my head. When I looked around to see what was happening, my actions were taken as offensive, and this lady became confrontational. Time to swop seats, I think. It's my fault for coming into this den of lowlife.

Speaking of which, I was on the tube as usual, that open book of London's mannerisms, sitting next to a man wearing a smelly Barber wax jacket: This being the rainy season and time to wear a smelly wax jacket in close proximity to everyone elses clean clothes. Yes, even in the commuter rush hour do we get those with disregard for others. Just then, I felt a nudge in the back, and packed as sardines as we were, I did turn to check the reason: Here was a man, rather well dressed, trying desperately to turn the pages of his free 'Metro' newspaper in a coach densely packed. He seemed to be agitated that there was not enough room for his actions, and he started to thump people to make more room for the leaves of his paper. Actually, he is not alone in this: So many commuters of a morning cannot go without reading something for the short journey to work and cause much fuss and discomfort to others whilst wealding their reading material in those sardine specials, using others as a newspaper stand, opening leaves of books into peoples faces, rubbing dirty newsprint into clean clothes.

Come on, this is the 21st Century! We should be colonising Alpha Centuri by now. And then theres this blowout of the banking system: How rediculous it all is. What a farce. All happening just down the road from where I do sit. All of London is in the grip of insanity, and I'm trapped in it. All the stupid schemes and political correctness and violence. All happening around Armistice Day too: So what do the pensioners of this world think of that we have created: Those that suffered in that great World War Two? Was it all worth it? All the greed and religion and politics that we see before us? Pensioners, and their 'means tested' life, and their homes at risk as they lay dying in an MRSA hell hole nursing sanctuary. I feel sorry for the elderly Londoners: They must fell like they want out real soon. What's in it for them?

October 2008 Ministry of Lies 
Hello everyone. Dear Diary, today is the first day to the rest of my life. And it's here that I sit, facing the window onto the world of London Town. Sorry that I am late with the report this month, but thanks to the chewing gum stuck to the pavement everywhere, I remained stuck for some time before being able to free myself. But just why do these lowlifes spit out their gum onto the floor? Why do they perform that ugly chewing in public in the first place? 'Chewing', unless at the dinner table, is one of the most lowest forms of behaviour, second only to that of 'smoking', and yet the villians seem to think it ok to spit their silly little gum onto our pavements, so it may get stuck to a shoe, and also mark out the pavement with millions of litte globules of gum, to be cleaned at the cost of £££zillions. What lowlife. I've even seen gum spat out onto the seats of tube trains and then left there, possibly in the hope that it will ruin someone's coat. Gum chewers, get out of London town. I suppose this behaviour is encouraged though, it's forever declared 'cool' to chew, and popular with the degenerate majority. Sigh...

Speaking of tube travel, and I often do, as it is the best area to guage any supposed civilised society. I once again ventured onto our London's Underground, looking for trouble no doubt. Observations abound, I at once noticed how difficult it was to move around, especially in a hurry, by the passengers that walk around everywhere: two, maybe three astride. And slowly too. Try and get past them and you get the inevitable 'dirty look'. It's amazing how wide that two people an obstacle can make, especially wadddling and wandering down the platform, making sure that nobody can pass. I noticed this again and again. A three astride formation managed to completely block a passenger tunnel which must have been about 15 feet wide, what with their deriere wobbling from side to side, it was an impossible barrier to navigate, and yet push past them I dare not, as if to inevitably cause 'great offence' and maybe some violence to boot.

Architecture wise, I keep hearing the debate about the Waterloo International Station, now that the St Pancras one is open. The Blue snake roof at Waterloo was a multi zillion quid marvel only completed back in 1994, and now redundant, but what to do with it? They sadly have decided on a total makeover for the poor old station, costing many more zillions of quids, which during these rather credit crunching times might be more of a waste of cash than usual. It was a rather foolhardy move in the first place to wreck Waterloo and spend unlimited wealth on the blue snake roof. Now it seems we must suffer more hell, for it has been decided, by burping boardroom bores, that Waterloo and it's passengers must suffer again. I must advise against this, but as massive profits will be made, I'm afraid I'm overruled.

Oh well, that's it. For another month. I did stop and think and pay personal respect to the fallen of 9/11, now 7 years ago. I thanked the earth for providing us with this AIR all around us that we breath in and out constantly during our short and wonderful lives, and for the sun shining on our autumn leaves. It's bliss.

September 2008 Bored With Gangstas 
Welcome to my little website, everyone, now in it's seventh year, and still moaning about the redevelopment of London by those dirty rotten scoundrels. The loss of all our wonderful old buildings and architecture just to make some rediculous profits. Welcome to the building site that is London Town.

Welcome to everyone that is still alive, as our streets are now run by tedious gangstas. How boring they are. Just look at them. This is a frightened city, and for years the decent citizens have been abandoned. Shame on those that govern us.

One good piece of good news is the success of the new Euston Arch website, which continues to draw press interest and keeps the momentum going. They have released some artists impressions of what the new Arch might look like on Euston Road, and it gives me great hope. Of course, I would really like the old victorian Euston Station to be rebuilt too, but maybe its a bit much to ask at this stage. If I were in charge though, the present Euston Station would be nuked out of existence, and the old one rebuilt exactly as it once was. If only.

Speaking of which, it was tube time again today, or should I say London Underground, or is it TFL plc. Who knows? Anyway, why do people go up in front of the tube barriers, and only THEN start fumbling in their bag for their oyster card, therefore blocking up that barrier for about 15 seconds? This happens every day to whatever person is in front of me. A similar thing also happens when people step off an escalator full of people behind them, and then, usually if they have heavy baggage, come to a standstill, making people behind fall over them as they try to alight. Yes, I see this every day to. C'mon you peoples! Get yer act together!

Another annoyance of mine is against people on the tube system that dont queue, that dont play the game, that push past you... what do I call them? Its a certain Moronic Maneuver that I see every day too. People that go in thru the out door, up the down stairs, against the grain, against the signs, and expect everyone coming the right way to move out of their way. Then, when they see a queue, they just jump it, pushing to the front. Happens every day on the tube, honestly!

Another fun thing on the tube is when tourists, at a busy moment of the day, decide to stop in their tracks on the tube platform to take a photo. A hoard of touristos blocking the platform and smiling for the camera, and the tourist with the camara will just not click the button, and everyones face is cracking from the false smile and still he wont press the button and all the commuters are still trying to get past but he wont click please click the shutter you bloody idiot oh at last he did it but he just took a photo of his own face. Wot a pilchard. Happens every day on the London subway, you have just gotta believe me!

So long, everyone, till next time, and please stay safe.

August 2008 Paradise Lost 
Hello everyone, and thanks for reading yet another journal entry, of one chap living in poor olde London town. How sad, you might think, is this chap, sitting there writing on the computer, when he should really be out there enjoying the marvellous weather. How shameful. Why, he's even writing this in the nude. (oh no).

Anyway, this weeks hot off the press visit to my particularly favourite museum called the V&A. I didnt like what I found. The dear old Henry Cole wing, that wonderfully detailed victorian outhouse, now gutted and painted white on the interior. What elements, I wondered, did those villains rip out of the Henry Cole heart to further this museums modernisation? Why didnt they just blow the whole thing up? Now renamed the 'Sackler Centre', it is now no longer a gallery space, but a ghastly study area. This should be in a school, not here. What a waste of gallery space. And what destruction levied upon a former victorian interior.

Did another trip to St Brides of Fleet Street, and also a few Fleet Street Pubs. Nice olde buildings, and so far untouched by developers. Yes, these old churches are marvellous, especially St Pauls. Actually, the religious buildings of every denomination have produced, over thousands of years, so much beauty, and there's still a lot of this in fragile London. I enjoy a visit or two, but only for the architecture. No, I dont pray. Although these buildings were initially made to honour some godly beings. Still, without all this belief we wouldnt have the architecure. Ok, where do I kneel...

So, it was back home on the tube, and this is where the fun really starts, for it is, in my opinion, on the tube or subway where you get to know a lot about any city. For starters, I got an emergency announcement down there. Couldn't understand a single word of it. All the communters, looked at each other and laughed. What did he say?? Oh well, probably something very serious. We'll find out when we get there!!

And the other funny thing on the tube, people who wear their work's name badge when they are travelling to work. Well, I thought it was funny... Oh yes, and spotted someone shaving too. Oh well, that was fun.

Until next time, cheerio, and goodbye, and take care, everyone.

July 2008 Love With The Madman 
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to my obscure little website. Sitting at a desk in the middle of London, England, he types away the hours. London is one continual building site, and our heritage continues to be eroded away.

Another day, another tube journey, another time to be poked in the back by someones book. I turn around. Some guy has these huge headphones for his mp3 player. Huge, just like the kid in Towering Inferno. Industrial earmuffs in the tube at rush hour. I look around, some lady is putting on her makeup well, in spite of the turbulance of the journey. I like watching ladies do that. Quite a skill. Some other lady is filling in a cheque, and then opens her mail on her knee, and then starts to use a fluorescent pen on the contents. Wow... Some other guy is using his laptop, and the people on both sides of him are reading what he is writing...

Later that day, I needed the toilet in London, which is a horrible affair, because most men treat toilets like they were animals. After spending some time wiping down the seat, I gave it a go, but the smell was dreadful. Toilet paper stolen, door lock kicked off. What animals they are. No attendant in sight, they've all been fired. What a lowlife society we have become. You can tell by the state of the toilets how rotten a town and it's population is.

Was checking up on that Burj Dubai skyscraper, now the tallest ever object built by man. It looks amazing. Reminds me to visit some of the sites around the City of London, so many scrapers going up. We are losing our quaint little pubs and alleyways to build them though. It aint right.

I'm still fed up with green issues, green taxation. They ruin everything they touch. And yet, in most 3rd world areas, they are letting egotistical politics drive belated industrial revolutions with not one green policy involved. Why? Just to push through a cultural vision upon the world. Dominate, conquest. When will they ever learn?

I wish there was another planet that these crooks could take their greed and freakery, and leave us all alone to sup beer upon the village green. Bye all, and have a great summer.

Jun 2008 Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep 
Hello everyone. Yes, the sun is shining in London Town, and Boris is Mayor, so things should be fun, until we return to nasty normality. And I was on the sweaty tube again this morning, long lines of desperate commuters all pushing in the same direction, all trying to get onto the same train. There is no courtesy, no giving way. Someone walked onto my ankles as usual, and was about to do it again when I thought I would duck for cover. Rediculous...

Anyway, worse than that was the pedestrian performance on the escalators. I just knew that the people in front of me, heavy luggage and lost, were going to grind to a halt when they walked off the escalators, and let everyone behind them fall on top of them. I had to take evasive action, and missed the pile up, for this bunch of misfits did as predicted, and it could have been carnage, but wasn't.

Ok, enough of that. More important to moan about the London stabbings and shootings, maybe one a day now, worse than seventies New York.

Didnt see much architecture, but did see that the old EMI Manchester Square HQ, the one with the old Beatles staircase, had been rebuilt since I had last been there, and nobody told me. Damn. Why did they have to do that? The new building isnt any better, and has no Beatles staircase for the first album cover. Speaking of which, I went down Heddon Street in the West End, looking for the David Bowie album cover location, but someone trashed the K.West sign. Dammit! All these locations are going down the pan. They should have left these historical items up forever.

Ok people, thanks for reading my diary. You really are a fabulous gathering of excellence. Please do call in again, same time, same channel. Goodbye.

May 2008 Give Me The Moonlight 
Hello everyone. This month I was glad to hear that at last there is a campaign to save the Euston Arch. See my Arch page for details. Anyway, what more could you want in life? I only ever started this website to air my views about the Euston Arch. I wonder if it will, one day, be rebuilt back in its rightful place? Lets say that this is good news at last, unlike most of the items I hear about.

I am in fear of the world, this week. I do feel quite helpless at times. I hope my life will not be wrecked completely. Ok, here's some more good news: How wonderful the capital has been since the Smoking Ban! There just isnt that stink anywhere anymore. Maybe on people's breath, or sometimes on the street, but it's great that sense has prevailed and we have banned the stench of the smelly smokers from our buildings and transport. Not so long ago, there used to be one carriage per tube train allocated to smokers, and I can still remember the stink I used to suffer if I got on that coach by accident, doors closing behind me, trapping me for one stop, making me breath in that death. Not so long ago, and what insanity.

Also delighted with keeping in touch with the progress of the Burj Dubai, the tallest structure in the world, and not even finished yet. Somewhere in Arabia this thing lurks, and I find that idea quite exciting. I read that it was such and such 'metres' high... What's that in english? Can I have that in feet and miles please (you europeans!).

Buildings-wise, it's about time that they stopped all these extortionate green taxes and climate change taxes and actually prepared London to adapt to the new climate age that might surely come. It's nice that we are slowly conquering pollution (in the UK at lease), but this excuse for restricting and taxing us must stop. Create buildings and infrastructure to cope with the future hell, but stop bothering us with all this creepy legislation and taxes. I'm sick of it.

And finally folks, it's a new mayor for London Town. stayed up last night for the result. No, not that I was supporting anyone, it's just that it was good entertainment. No, I still maintain that the mayorship is a waste of money, just another level of bureaucracy, and should be scrapped, saving us billions ££££ of council tax. Ok, so we're stuck with it, so we may as well have Boris to do it. Entertainment value is good. I hope that all this power drives him over the edge, and he becomes ultra eccentric. Should be good. Goodbye, all...

April 2008 Nothing to hide, everything to fear 
Hi. Just heard about the death of Pimlico School. Another important building bites the dust, and as ever, we, and even a few powerful architects, are powerless to stop the evil of the greedy developer. Oh well. This city is now nothing but one enormous building site, formerly known as London. All around are the sights sounds and smells of unchallenged redevelopment and regeneration. Is there anyone who can put a stop to this madness?

Last month, my recce to Kings Cross, yet again to follow another disaster story for that sad area. What have they done to it? Couldnt face looking again at the now murdered St Pancras with that sick statue and stupid blue roof, but I instead investigated the footbridge inside King's Cross itself, where the press had highlighted the imminent trashing of this age old monument that spans the main platforms. And how wonderful it all is: The old victorian designs from 1893, old clock, old ironwork, cute stairs. It's for the chop, so see it whilst you can. I took my photos and ran. There is so much change for the worst at the station: Barriers and turnstiles going up everywhere. Modernism, and non preservation. Hatred for our past. Yet again, another beloved part of London ruined. They would love to pull this old station down, if they could afford to.

Otherwise, London's entertainment people have gone China mad. Everywhere a desperate exhibition, if only to celebrate the status of China as a major player. It's all about money, folks, and this is going a bit too far. Anyway, the people of Peking have similar woes to us, where the government are flattening areas of residential areas and businesses so that they can build their stupendous stadiums for olympics. Just think of the profits that they will make here, whilst our cities are both wrecked in the name of athletics and super profits. My heart goes out to you, people of Peking. Sorry, I mean Beijing, or whatever it's called this week.

Other notable miseries of London: I heard too that the plans to pedestianise the whole of Exhibition Road will now go ahead, turning the place into another euro wasteland. Usually, no cars = more crime, as life creates self policing, if you know what I mean. That whole area is doomed now, and I guess the cars will have to go elsewhere, if there is indeed anywhere left. And to cap it all, the V&A are still trying to go ahead with that rediculous extension box carbuncle. Oh no. I would ask for help, or maybe pray that we are saved, but who you gonna call? Nobody is listening.

March 2008 Crime is actually falling 
Dear conservationists. Hello, and welcome to my journal. It's more like a London Underground complaints spot nowadays, but the tube reflects so much about London. Oh how I dont miss those smoking coaches though. As ever, this morning, I was wasted upon the scarey platform of doom. Not crossing the yellow line for fear of falling on the track. Many a horrid commuter jostled violently for position, and when the train came in, everyone converged on the door, then made sure that alighting passengers couldnt get off. I stood back, watching all these nicely suited lowlifes act out their shameful stupidity. Then I got on, there still being a bit of room.

Now, there are only two types of people that commute on tubes. Those who, in tightly packed sardine circumstances, read newspapers... and those who have their faces used as a newpaper rack. Them versus polite society. I looked around at all those magnificent faces. Some of us had a seat, and were asleep. They were far from the door. How would they get off through this crowd? Some men sat with their legs parted so that their knees pushed into people sitting next to them. How uncivilised they are. Who knows? Oh, it was time to leave, this being my stop. And yes, it was violent confrontation, trying to get off. I think the general concensus was that we stayed put and didnt try and get off at our stop. No courtesy was afforded, and people who tried to squeeze out from the crush got elbowed in the ribs. How intellectual. Some idiotic villains sat with their legs crossed, blocking the way out with an outstretched leg. I negotiated the hurdles and escaped, but much grunting followed... I had failed to clear the leg, and paid the penalty.

Anyway, out we go from this haven, but first one has to make it through the turnstiles. As ever, a parade of fare dodgers wait near the tube turnstiles, waiting to shuffle behind you as you go through, and save money. I've actually been pushed through before, and hate this so much, that I often wait to be followed, and then run suddenly, leaving my shadow to be thumped by the barriers and held there to the ringing of alarms. I love doing that. Even better if the police are there, and they quite often are, tube travellers being a soft target for police.

Just another day on the London Underground. Moans this month? Well, finding out that the new Wembley Stadium does not have a closable roof, after all that, gave me quite a chill. Getting my latest privatised utility bill, that gave me a greater chill. I hope on day that we nationalise all utilities, transport, nhs, housing, tube... so many things should not be for profit. Dream on, Charles.

February 2008 Danced myself right out the womb 
Hi. Trouble in store. I was on the tube, as ever, fighting for position with the ever loving commuters. But I was on the losing streak. I am just not violent enough. Where is the common courtesy? Gone with the wind.

On the tube. Rush hour. Sardine-packed commuters. Stubborn violent petty commuters who demand nobody touches them, even in the squeeze. Arrogant commuters who, pressed against humans in a crush, insist in opening up newspapers and trying to read them. Flapping pages into peoples faces. Staring out anyone who might disagree. Interesting behaviour. The brakes were suddenly full on, we all fell forward, smashing into newspapers and books. One nasty little creep whispered threats. We all got the idea he didnt like his book being squashed. Well... you dont know what these people will do next.

Thats the thing about a tube crush. It shows up people for what they really are. How much they care. Like the one who was in the crush last week in his Barbour wax jacket. Nobody wanted to get a free wax shine onto their nice clean clothes, but mister Barbour man didnt like getting a free frisk either, as in being prodded away. Those Barbour coat wearers are so silly, you may as well wear a coat covered in dog's poop.

And the print from some of these newspapers is bad enough, especially if you are being used as a book-rest at 8am, tube crush. Some proclaim to be clean printed, but some kinda dirt still rubs off. Blackened face, hands, and clothing on the cards, unless you protect yourself. Yet some folk insist on doing what they please. I despise them.

You could say it was the fault of these free newspapers. Whether your taste is for the 'London Pauper' or 'London lite', these free evening papers are something for nothing, a bit of titilation, but good ammo for the mob. And these same crush readers will be the same mobsters who, after reading, will simply dump or hide their wares somewhere on the tube system, instead of taking it home for recycle. The trash is unbearable, but you will find it's the same arroganti. Councils and Tfl are blaming the publishers for all this newspaper mess!!! No, you idiots, it's those who do what they please, who are encouraged to do as they please by this naff society who reject traditional values of politeness and courtesy. Well, this is what you get if you dismantle our great society. Damn you all.

January 2008 Bastards Grind You Down 
Hello everyone. Happy new year. Last years adventures in architecture ended up in the Museum of Childhood, an old shed in Bethnal Green that thankfully they were able to keep warm in winter. It was a genuine and fantastic trip, especially as I was able to converse with a life size model of Robby the Robot, who wanted to destroy me.

I've been back on the tubes, which in the mornings is not such a delight in London, everyone ignoring each other in solitude and misery. It does look rather glum, but that is now the way of the world. It's a frightened city. Nobody is smiling. Except for me. Actually, the whole procedure is really a violent one, what with the bad manners and arrogance that is dealt out. No respect. Heads used as a paper rest. Nobody gives way any more. Most tube travellers are stupid peasants who should take the bus until they are trained in courtesy. And then the train stops forever at the station: Reason? "Regulating the service" How absurd to bring everything to a halt! I get off. Someone nearly deadlegs me with his massive heavy briefcase, which he carries at knee height, ready to decap anyones kneee that gets in the way. Damn. I left the tube, unscathed this time.

Otherwise, I was at a government building of no fixed address. Modernised and ruined. Gutted and messed with. Offices uprouted and staff sitting in a corridor. Corporate niceness on show, Customer service training at it's worst. Everyone looked ill. No happy days here. No laughter on show. Everyone is so unhappy these days. They feared for the future.

Meanwhile, they sqabble and lie over the latest scams over London Mayorship, a whole host of new useless arrivals on the scene groan out the same old platitudes in vain hope to get elected. In the arena of politics, this stinks just like any other. If elected, I promise to rid London of the Mayorship, at a cost of -£250 to each Council Tax payer. I also intend to sell off the Mayor's building and distribute the winnings of sale to the London populus. Also, the savings of getting rid of Ken and his lot will give us back $millions to put to great proper use, and that doesnt mean any more of Ken's stalinist fantasies. You know, when I am Mayor for one second, I will then rid London of this extra tier of Government, and we will all rejoice as we put Ken and any other politico candidate in the stocks for a week. Hoorah!

The London Destruction Website.