Archive | February, 2012

THE DAY THE WORLD TURNED PISS-COLOUR

19 Feb

I took these photos when it snowed in London a couple of weeks ago. They are completely unexceptional until you take into account the fact they were taken at 3am without no light source but the eerie reflection of the settled snow. The colour of these photos is completely false, the camera is making up for its inability to show how the light really was, and I’m quite keen on the way they turned out. My area should market itself in sepia, probably.

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Holiday

16 Feb

… or what I did on my holiday, part 2. Or, how to draw the shape of a dried chilli pepper onto a map of Italy with a Fiat 500.

Geeko Tourism

6 Feb

London is enormous. HUGE. GIGANTIC. Whether you classify London in terms of its physical continuity or administrative boundaries, it is still one of the largest cities in the world by area. Even if you were to strip away the outer bouroughs bolted onto the metropolis in 1965, it would still be two and a half times the size of Paris, and would take over five hours to cross on foot. I know; I’ve walked it.

The sheer enormity of the city may make the daily commute little short of a nightmare, but for those lucky enough to live here, it also presents endless opportunities for budget holidays. It feels odd to suggest that one can be a tourist in what is nominally one’s hometown, but given the near-continental differences between locales, there’s no other word for it. You could turn London into a theme park for wankers like me without changing a thing; what does Disneyland have that we don’t? Overpriced drinks? People in cartoonish outfits? Unreliable looped railway tracks? We’ve got it all here. All we need to do now is to set up the ticket booths on the M25.

Intra-London tourism has never been accepted as a phenomenon. Why would you go sightseeing somewhere you already know? The simple answer is precisely because you do know it. Or at least, you think you do. The way that any landmark can be subverted by the way people use it can be striking; in the car with my Mother the other day, I was genuinely shocked to see a pedestrian using the Abbey Road zebra as a means to cross the road rather than as a photo opportunity. Call me a twat (I won’t argue), but I’m fascinated by picture-postcard monuments and what goes on around them.

There is also the small matter of what we don’t know. I have spent more of my life in London than anywhere else, yet I’m probably familiar with less than an eighth of it; when I spent four months attempting to walk to every tube station on the network, I used only the main roads, and even then managed to snap less than half of them. My house is littered with maps of the city; they read like indexes of my own ignorance, bar the tiny islands around friends’ houses and local haunts.

I’m trying to go on holiday once a week; so far I’ve discovered the fantastic bric à brac market around Lisson Grove and some very bizarre but almost completely hidden public sculpture in Mayfair. This weekend I took a trip to Greenwich, and then by accident ended up at the terrifying new Westfield in Stratford. The food was good, people were nice enough, and the sightseeing weren’t bad either. Crap shopping, but at least there was a direct train home. Best holiday I’ve had in years, actually.

Happy trails.

Duh-duhduhduhder-Duh

3 Feb

… Or such is my transcription of the theme from Get Carter. To whomsoever it may concern, apologies for the silence of the past week. I’ve been up in Northumberland for the last couple of days with my family. Yes, I didn’t post anything, but I also now know that I don’t have glaucoma. Which is nice.

Despite the fact that it is often comparable to a trip up Satan’s arsehole, the journey between Newcastle and London can be most pleasant indeed. This afternoon, as the big Intercity slid out of the Central Station over the Tyne, the sunshine was barely credible, and my belief that Newcastle is blessed with the World’s most exciting station approach was solidly reinforced. Much to the annoyance of the guy sitting next to me, I took some photos which for some infuriating reason won’t play ball with this blog. Instead, here’s a pic of my chum Nicky on the famous Tyne Bridge;

Why haven’t more films been made in Tyneside? It’s got everything you need for a movie; unmistakeable landmarks, post-industrial decay and ludicrous delusions of grandeur. Perhaps Get Carter did the job too well- Newcastle and Gateshead, even taken together, constitute a pretty small city- sorry- “urban area”, and I suppose there are only so many hoods to slaughter, developers to throw off (sadly demolished) car parks, and John Osbournes to discredit.

At the beginning of Mike Hodges’ film, we see snatched images of the landmarks of the East Coast Line, including these;

If you watched the film having spent your life in the South, you could easily get the impression that North of King’s Cross, England is a scrapyard of redundant industry and strange men with creepy comb-overs. In fact, South of Darlington, the landscape from the East Coast Mainline is almost relentlessly dull- just fields, cottages and funny clouds.

It was enough to drive me to the shares index at the back of the newspaper. God it was boring. When finally the train drew into the London suburbs, the sight of the Bounds Green maintenance depot did for me what the first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty is supposed to do for New Yorkers returning home. Aaaah, the wonders of British Rail!

On the Underground home, I got so excited by a twelve-minute delay on the Circle Line that I ran around Edgware Road Station taking stupid photos.

What?!? Christ, I didn’t say this was going to be interesting, did I?