scribbles tagged ‘downtown’

street walking

Monday, March 30th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Deco sky scraper reflected in modern glass sky scraper


Forshay tower (circa 1927) seen from nearby street level

but where are the people? Where are the shops?  It looks deserted and there’s nowhere that looks like a place I’d want to stop and shop

Mum was a bit baffled by a drive through the heart of downtown Minneapolis, in December.

Downtown shoppers don’t walk on the streets, sidewalks. It’s too goddam cold! Why have a shop-front onto the street if there are no people to be lured into your store by that view? There are shop fronts. I’ve learned that you have to read the shop fronts in a different way. I’m not sure what I’ve learned, but I’ve learned something because I see more than mum.

Wandering, on foot, downtown in the warmer, above-freezing, temperatures of the Spring revealed some beautiful views of the city. Still no people on the streets.

The walk from my apartment to downtown passes a host of sex bars/shops, I counted 6 on one route…A depressing story that there is demand for this and women find it’s the best way available for them to earn a living. I wonder if mum noticed these places?

This area was clearly a seedy part of town, still is. The seeds of change are showing as restaurants, hairdressers, and other ‘local’ services start to emerge between the sex bars. Anyone for chargrilled Pizza?

Dreamgirls bar on the walk downtown from home

Dreamgirls bar on the walk downtown from home


Augies topless bar/nightclub seen on the walk downtown from home


SexWorld, 24hrs, seen on the walk downtown from home


street walking
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The Holly and the wendy

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Downtown AlleywayI’ve lived in my downtown apartment for 6 weeks.  Today was the first time I got out to enjoy just wandering around, exploring

5hrs exploring. All of it full of treats peculiar to my tastes.

Holly, the lady on the till in the hat section of the 8 storey Macy’s store on Nicolette, was so helpful. 45 minutes helpful.  Our chatting. My listening. Didn’t stop anyone else buying anything! I’d already bought the hat, so this wasn’t a sales tactic. I suspect she’s chatty by nature and more than a tad bored. Downtown is VERY quiet on Saturday at 11am.  she explained that weekends, when all the office workers have left, are always quiet.  Ideal for “don’t like crowds’ me!

Holly was a high school teacher, she taught biology. She didn’t like the students who went on to be Engineers because they were unimaginative and focussed on ‘interesting’ engineering rather than societal value and function. She told me there’s a place near Industrial Blvd (and a cemetery, that I’ve been meaning to visit) that’s called “Honeywell Hill” because it’s where the company ‘Honeywell’ started out. Evidently they have excellent July 4th celebrations there, on the hill, not in the cemetery.

I think I’ll visit Holly again on another Saturday and find out about her dreams.


The Holly and the wendy
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Popular conversational topics #2: neighbours from hell

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

This conversation topic sneaks out over lunches and in pubs.   At first I thought it was a reserved conversation amongst friends because while the stories have entertainment value they clearly point to a source of stress in the tellers life.   Then recently while  buying home and contents insurance from a clerk in my local Reading bank branch:

Bank Clerk (BC):   is it a nice home?

Wendy: it needs some work  but its detached,   no noisey neighbours to worry about

BC:   Oh tell me about it!   we’ve got the nieghbour from hell she deals crack cocaine and everyone knows about it,   last night at about 4am she through a concrete garden boulder at her friends car because they were having an argument,   I was lying there praying she didn’t miss and hit my car…   …we tried calling the police but they just don’t want to know,   there’s nothing you can do…   …we’ve asked the council to move us but they can’t…     …she leaves her 4 year old child alone in the house while she goes out partying…  (and more of the same ilk for approximately 15 mins)

My listening  performance was  worthy of  the type of fees traditionally paid to professional psychiatrists.       What friendly approachable, troubled,  staff they have at my local bank branch in Reading.  

I might just drop into the bank to check she’s ok next time I’m downtown.

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piping hot

Monday, February 11th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Henry (Father) Willis and Sons’ firm of pipe organ builders have thier own Wikipedia entry that features a photograph of the Reading town hall, Concert hall, organ. It also lists many notable Cathedral’s that feature Willis organs (e.g. Canterbury).

I’ve heard all of 2…. …..3, …no 4 unexpected Readibus proudly display their knowledge of the town’s possession of a father Willis organ.

Now I’d like to see, hear, this celebrity vibrating the concert hall with beautiful music…

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Oracle originally a clothier workhouse

Saturday, January 5th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

In the heart of Reading is a shopping centre called the Oracle  on the same site afore this  was a workhouse of the same name:

In January 1626, the town corporation paid William Kendrick (John’s brother) the generous sum of £1,900 for his house and workshops on Minster Street, opposite St Mary’s church, and with handy access to the Holy brook and Mill stream. By 1628, the site had been redeveloped to provide a workhouse for poor clothiers. The impressive building (for which William Brockman, brickmaker of Tilehurst, supplied 200,000 bricks and 20,000 tiles) became known as “The Oracle” — the name possibly deriving from “orchal“, a violet dye obtained from lichen…     …The Oracle became a troop garrison during the English Civil War, and then ‘an Habitation for an idle sort of Poor, who lived in it Rent free.’ The building was demolished in 1850 and the site redeveloped.”  

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centre of the universe or small town?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007 | tags: , , , ,  |

Estate agent: what’s your current address?
Wendy: (the Wendy House,   address)
Estate agent: big white building?
Wendy: yes, how did you know?
Estate agent: I used to live near there

I keep meeting people that live(d) near the Wendy House.   How cosy is that?

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Outside St. Marys Butts

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

Outside St Marys Butts,   after wandingring around the Saturday market in search of  a little  refreshment in Pavlov’s dog

Wendy:   do you have any dark ales?

Barboy: we don’t have any ales,   we’re a student pub

I moved on without buying anything  and turned-up in Zero Degree’s Microbrewery.

Wendy:   do you have any dark ales?

Barboy:   we’re a Microbrewery,   we brew our own

Wendy:   do you have any dark ales?

Barboy:   We have Pilsners

Wendy:   No.   Pilsner  a light beer, a  lager, do you have any dark ales?

Barboy:   We have India Pale Ales.. its like a Bitter…

Wendy (getting desperate):   Yes,   Bitter,   I love Bitter,   what Bitters do you have?

Barboy:   We have a special Apple and Cinnamon Bitter.

Wendy:   I’ll have a pint of your apple and cinnamon bitter please

  ….when it eventually arrived the Apple and cinnamon bitter was unfiltered,   sickly sweet tasting as  if it had been brewed yesterday by a pre-teen for a school technology project which may well appeal to some people.   Not fussy, grumpy, me.    

The 7 Waitstaff that I counted were pleasant enough when they stopped talking to each other and checked-in on their 5 customers,   a table of 4 and myself.   It had the feel of a large chain outlet  targetting  high turnover rather than quality service,   there was  no obvious evidence of employees pride in their skills or the establishment.     My pasta dish was extremely good soft pasta with fresh herbs and creamy sauce…   yummy

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red and yellow

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

Contrast.   Less than 20 yards apart,   an empty Hotel foyer with ample seating and the busy street across the road where the pavement provides seating.  Shuffling through the   slowly revolving, silent, automatic Hotel doors onto Friary street the chilly night air, scent, and sounds of Reading nightlife slap you sharply on the cheek.   Especially if you sit down suddenly.  On the pavement (US = sidewalk) as I am wont to do occassionally.

Oddly enough I didn’t fall-over on my recent trip to Reading.   Is this portentous?  

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cro n c urt

Friday, November 23rd, 2007 | tags: , , , ,  |

In the UK the crown court is a criminal court.   The security guards asked “are you coming in or not?”     to explain my loitering “I’m a tourist,   can I come in?   I have a camera” they helpfully  direct me  to check my camera into their lockers.   Without a camera I felt naked.  

Wendy:   can you recommend a court with an interesting case?

receptionist:   I have no idea what counts as interesting

bewigged-lady:   there’s a grumpy judge in court 1 and he’s probably going to shout at me

besuited lady: there are some ongoing cases in courts 5 and 6

The bewigged and besuited ladies started discussing the merits of the various court rooms.   I wandered off to court 1 to discover  an appeal against  the police-revocation of a gun licence.   The appellant had originally declared his previous criminal conviction for car theft when applying for,   and receiving,    the original gun licence.   The police admitted that they had not checked  how the stolen car was subsequently used – in an armed robbery.  

The police  had new information that they believed made giving the appelant a gun licence a very risky proposition.   The appellant’s right to  natural justice  required that their appeal  could address  the information that the Pollice used to make the revocation decision.   The police did not want the appellant to know the information they had used in this judgement.   This case was unique and the lawyers introduced lots of similar, yet different cases as they discussed how to proceed.

The character witnesses in the public gallery behind me,   looked like UK versions of the Soprano’s.   Posh suits,   short haircuts,   regional accents.   Phrases I overheard from the character witnesses included

they’re talking about whether or not he’ll find out  what the police have  got on him

that will cost him another 20k

his ex-wife must have talked

The judge appeared genuinely concerned about the appellants ability to exterminate vermine being curtailed by having  his gun licence revoked.   The witnesses giggled.

In the courts people wore wigs,   held bibles above their hearts and swore poetic oaths,   bowed to the judge,   debated points of law.   All dressed ‘well’,   even the juries.   I was undoubtebly the scruffiest person in the building in my anachronistic mountain equipment jacket.

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downtown gables

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

In Reading.  My first evening.   Jetlagged.   With luggage & flat Eric.   Listening to fireworks explode & people arguing in the street.   While walking to a pub quiz a  plump, bedraggled,  lady approaches me and holds out her hand as if to grab my arm

I know its rude,   I know I shouldn’t,   I’m really sorry,   but do you have one-pound-ninety?

Sorry, I don’t have any cash”   My voice sounds loud and assertive almost like I was chiding her.   No empathy,   no softness,   no attempt to find out if I could help her in   other ways.   I felt bad.   I wish I’d been organised enough to pick up some currency before I arrived…

On my way back from the pub quiz the streets are alive with whooping groups of young adults,   a couple of which decided to use the Nationwide cashpoint (US = ATM) as a prop for simulating eXtreme naughtiness in public without the aid of hands.   Astonishing.   Reading fair buzzes on  a Sunday night.   The ladies are often not wearing much some even had their boobs and other bits out in the November night air.   I guess the escapades of US female celebrities really have set the tone for a night on the town here.

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