scribbles tagged ‘London’

loosing the heart

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Dad was 15yrs when he went to the 1948 London Olympics. A train to blitz damaged london, walk up to Wembley stadium and buy a ticket on the door. The Games were a sign of hope of recovery. We didn’t think London would be able to host them. We had humility and hope.

Dad’s a spritely 80yr old. He walks the 4 miles to the local Post Office to pick up his pension. He’s webmaster for 3 websites, one for:

  • his village.
  • a group of retired engineering professionals.
  • an engineering historical society.

Dad’s built computers and can program in many languages.  He’s no technical pansey, he likes to try things out. Dad’s always insisted that all his children have to be Engineers.  Engineering skills are fundamental survival skills and they bring joy – solving problems elegantly, beautifully. Obviously I’m biased, but I agree with dad.

Olympics celebration of capitalismDad wont be going to the London 2012 Olympics. Not because

  • he’s old
  • London is difficult to get to
  • he’s lost interest in sport

Dad’s not going because of the ‘Hoohah’ around the sale of the tickets and the whole organisation of the affair.  In their current form the Olympic games have  lost their beauty of celebrating athletic prowism. This beauty may still be there but sight of it is lost amongst all the other dross it’s dressed in.

Dad did start to try and buy tickets but was too annoyed by the lack of common sense in the process the ticket sales people had put in place. It lacked the wisdom of simple engineering. I too gave up in the process. One thing shines through for me

I love my dad

And like him I’m disappointed in how the London version of the Olympics have evolved since 1948

loosing the heart
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when there’s no audience in the room – I’m an extrovert

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Circle LineDuring commuter time, even in London, it is possible to be alone in public

When I stepped into this empty circle line carriage at 08.45am I felt like singing. So I did! No-one smirked, No-one shook their head, no-one asked me to stop screeching.

No-one joined in. I did’t feel embarrassed because  I’m not a talented or even accurate vocalist

When there’s no audience in the room – I’m an extrovert

I normally choose to be in a place with few, or no, people present – does that make me an introvert?

If I tell my friends that I’m an introvert they disagree.  They describe things I do that are typical of an extrovert. Things that I don’t actually enjoy or find easy. I’m an introvert who can do extrovert things when the occasion requires. Happily living alone, spending many nights in, is probably the biggest indicator that I’m an introvert at heart

when there’s no audience in the room – I’m an extrovert
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who’s on the train today?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Circle line 5.15pm Westbourne ParkSometimes I get to ride on the trains. It’s expensive and fascinating. I like to guess who the other passengers are and why they are there. To wonder why other people aren’t there. Sometimes I get to talk to Robots or passengers who aren’t indulged in the social norm of trying to maintain their privacy in this very public space

On this 5.15pm midweek circle line train approaching Paddington from the west, there was:

  • 1 person (other than me) who looked like a woman – where are the other women?
  • 1 person (other than me) who looked over 45 years – where are the 50+ people?
  • 1 person (other than me) wearing brightly coloured clothes – where are the people who adore wearing brightly coloured clothes?
  • 1 person (other than me) standing-up
  • 1 person who looks under 18 years – where are the other children?
  • 1 person looks non-caucasian
  • no-one (other than me) wearing a hat

On this train I was definitiely a ‘different’ passenger….


who’s on the train today?
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Our GPS doesn’t work down here

Monday, February 6th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Robots on the tubeA weekend trip on the London Underground (Tube) is definitiely a different experience from midweek commuter journeys. Much nicer. The travellers are wearing their weekend clothes, more colourful and varied than the business black and gray

As this circle line (yellow branding) train pulled into Paddington I could see most of the carriages were tightly packed with travellers – except one. I made my way to the half-empty carriage where I met these two Robots. Instant smiles all around. They were discussing how they didn’t know where they were because their GPS wasn’t working…

can I take your photograph?

After I’d photographed them the carriage turned into a paparazzi-style frenzy. It seemed that everyone in the carriage had a camera phone and they all wanted a picture, the best picture. They got out of their seats and vied fopositions to get the best shot. They gave the robots instructions on how to poise

point at the map, up a bit, down a bit, that’s it!”

We helped the robots to read the map so they knew where to get off the train. One man who couldn’t speak English helped the robots keep their arm-protection from falling off.

It was a wonderful experience of strangers laughing and helping each other. I like the tube at the weekend



Our GPS doesn’t work down here
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antique communication devices

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Why I love England #16:  red telephone boxes

Red antique English telephone boxesJust around the corner from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is this fabulous row of antique communication devices. Many people 20 and under will never ever have used these. Why would they need to? They carry their own phones with them. In the 80’s a row of phone boxes like this in a city centre would have a person in each box talking and maybe one or two people outside, checking the change in their purses, waiting for their turn to make a private call.

According to this history, in the 1980’s most homes didn’t have landline phones.

In 1987, the post office, who deployed and maintained them, systematically replaced these red boxes with a more modern design with more glass and open to the air that reduced the likelihood of the box being used as a urinal, or the subsequent pungent smell. Pew! I remember the smell!  Some villages protested against the replacement and managed to hold-on to this much loved older design. But sadly, most red boxes were removed.

I guess they are still useful to a few people for actually hosting a landline call, they are also useful for keeping warm, dry and quiet for making a mobile phone call. It’s wonderful that the local council, as many councils in tourist areas, have decided to leave them here and maintain them in such good condition. For the tourists, and people like me who can be heard bubbling


antique communication devices
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before the people

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

Covent GardenAt 11am on a January morning. Covent Garden wakes late and stays up late. I like the quiet charm before the

shoppers arrive

tourists arrive

theatre, opera and ballet attendees arrive

Covent Garden sparkles in the evening with laughter and smiles, people warmly dressed and chattering, clicking heels and long dresses, Dinner Jackets and cigars. Full of people it is a different place, just as beautiful

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door mouse and elephant tea party

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Kensington Palace groundsThe views from this Kensignton Palace building must have been severely hampered by the modern Hotel building behind. At first I was horrified that town planners had let this happen, surely people vociferously complained when they saw the plans?

Then the sheer perversity of the juxtaposition began to work a subversive magic on my taste. The smaller building looked so much more cute because of its unassuming presence in the shadow of a large and ugly Hotel.

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early captive

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

My parents took the family on a day trip to London, to the Tate gallery.   At 7 yrs I was not well equipped to appreciate the treasures on display.   Mum and Dad seemed to spend ages looking at dull boring pictures of clouds (Turner).   I asked permission to explore the galleries at my own pace and was allowed to wander off.   I walked briskly,   errr ran,  around the building capturing impressions browsing for literally seconds at vaguely interesting paintings that I’ve long since forgotten.  

Then.   I turned the corner of a gallery to be confronted by the death of Chatterton.  

His vibrant orange hair glowing,   his purple velvet breaches full of warm lively texture in the daylight.   The torn paper on the floor.   His face white as marble.   Clearly dead.   I was captivated,   I stood studying the painting for what seemed, to a 7 year old, like eons.   I fell intrigued.   Who was this beautiful man?   Why was anyone that beautiful, dead before being old and wrinkly?  

He became my first love.   He was a local Bristol boy,   I was a local Bristol girl.   Later I read Peter Ackroyd’s book ‘Chatterton’ and wondered whether his death was an accident or deliberate. I visit St. Mary’s Redcliffe  occassionally,   the place where Chatterton reportedly discovered the manuscripts on which he forged his texts.   He has remained young, beautful, and with my thoughts.  

From AElla

O! Synge untoe mie roundelaie,
O! droppe the brynie teare wythe mee,
Daunce ne moe atte hallie daie,
Lycke a reynynge ryver bee;

Mie love ys dedde,
Gon to hys death-bedde,
Al under the wyllowe tree.

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Friday, May 8th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

Eros6pm in Leicester Square, Westminster, London

England feels crowded compared to the NW US,   even compared to New York.   People brush against you as you pass them on the pavements,   the tube staircases,   mounting and dismounting the trains.   The tube stations are warm and muggy laced with the stench of sweat,   and its only April.

Sidewalk person-to-person collision avoidance weaving is required, not optional.     Here in Leicester square,  Alfred Gilbert’s statue of Eros has his own space above the crowds  on the originally much maligned  Shafetsbury memorial fountain from where he threatens passers-by with a dose of love, intended as a representation of christian charity.

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bussing solutions

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Wedding specialFor all your wedding-guest transportation from church to reception veunue needs.    A red London bus wedding special.   As you can imagine,   this was the highlight of the wedding for me.

The reception venue in a cricket pavilion, while a match was in progress,  was also so wonderfully English that soppiness abounded.

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old and new

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

flat caps, sticks and cardigansTwo slim elderly gentleman rest their walking sticks  as they wait to cross the road in downtown London.   Flat caps keep their heads warm,   cardigans sensibly cover their torsos in the cool spring sunshine.   The modern office block in the background reflects the sun and current fashion.

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Thursday, March 12th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

National TheatreThe title of this architectural style certainly captures my experience of its implementation.  

Why would architects want to impose brutalism on their users?   I’ve not quite grapsed the subtlety here.   Maybe there isn’t any subtlety.   Any public building that requires it’s users undertake a training course in order to understand it is a public building that has failed on at least one experience level.

The Royal National Theatre on London’s south bank is a Grade II listed building,   a brutalist building.  I do not appreciate Brutalist buildings.   It reminds me of Portsmouth’s now defunct Tricorn Centre.

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Saturday, March 7th, 2009 | tags:  |

London Eye LegsDo people on the ground, looking-up, get vertigo?

If so don’t look at the adjacent picture.

Also,   the picture could be considered a little risky if you take the perspective that you are looking up between the legs of the body.   Given it’s risky nature I recommend  that you take adequate safety precautions such as bathroom tissue, knee-pads  and cloud-filter spectacles.

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crane scale: 20

Friday, March 6th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

St Pauls, Westminster Bridge, CranesCranes are business confidence indicators.  

Downtown London is currently measuring 20 on the crane-scale of business confidence.     It’s unclear if the British crane exhibits the same migrational tendancies as the North American crane.

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Chandelier infiltration

Thursday, February 21st, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Dale Chihouly’s chandeliers are infiltrating big municipal building foyers from  the Benaroya hall in Seattle to the Victoria and Albert museum in London’s South Kensington. Have they infiltrated a foyer near you?

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free and fabulous

Sunday, February 17th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

The Natural History Museum,  originally opened in 1881 and now open 7 days a week,   free to everyone.     It’s got Mammoth skeletons, literally, Mammoth!   Designed by a young manchester architect, Alfred Waterhouse, the building itself is a work of art.     Arches have spines and unique varied animals climbing them.

There are no rules posted about the use of cameras which meant I got a tiny-bit snap-happy.

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on the back pages

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

In English newspapers sport stories,   results, are normally reported on the back pages of paper newspapers.   When I graduated from a Leicestershire University (1992)  an hounoury masters degree was awarded to Gary Lineker for being a Master of his sport and

“putting sport where it belongs,   on the back pages”

In the early 90s footballing celebrities like Gazza were getting newspaper coverage on the front pages for behaviour that is surely not worthy of emulating.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a fun Christmas, office, party held in Madame Tussauds waxworks where I met Gary again and he looks just the same…

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