So May feels as if it has largely been about trains, plays and photos. I can’t help wondering if going on two London Transport events in a month doesn’t suggest a growing nerdiness about transport but I like to think that it is more about being able to see things that are rarely revealed.
So the first of these trips was a walk through the Thames Tunnel which runs from Rotherhithe to Wapping. It is pretty amazing to think that the tunnel was built between 1825 and 1843. It was originally built for people to walk under the Thames but now it is used as part of the London Overground network. Of course on the day of the walk there were no trains running but walking between the tracks, even with the electricity turned off, still feels a little dangerous and exciting. It turns out to be pretty difficult to take good photos as although there are lights it is still pretty dark. So here is a photo taken by me and an impression of what it might have looked when it opened:
One of the things that I really like about the tunnel is that it was about more than just getting from one place to another as there used to be stalls in between the arches, in time these places ended up being used for the oldest trade. It feels like City Planners still haven’t really come to terms with the idea that if you create shady spaces they will be used for shady activity. I would really recommend the walk but unfortunately it can only be done when the rail line is closed so it is quite a rare occurrence. In the absence of being able to visit the tunnel, I do heartily recommend a visit to the Brunel museum.
And so underground again, another sort of folly but much less of an engineering miracle. Originally the Aldwych, née Strand, Station was the end of a Piccadilly line spur from Holborn, which is really not all that useful – towards the end of its life the wait time between the trains was about the length of time it would take you to walk above ground. It is a strange place to visit as lots of what you see is fake – the station is now frequently used in film sets so there are fake posters, and also sections where different tiles were tried out before use on other parts of the underground system. During the war the station, like many others, was used by people sheltering from the Blitz. However, unlike other stations there were armed guards protecting valuables that were stored in one of the tunnels. My favourite story that we were told during the walk seemed to sum up the whole place. During the war they stored the Elgin Marbles in the aforementioned tunnel, when it came to the time to restore the Marbles to the British Museum it turned out that although the lifts could bring the Marbles down the couldn’t take them back up so they had to be taken by tube to one of the above ground stations where they were ground stations where they were loaded on to a truck.
Read more about the history of the station.
You can know see (literally) why I decided that it would be a good idea to go on a photowalk to try and improve my photography skills. It was really useful spending some time reminding myself what all the different buttons on the camera do but I think my problem is that I just don’t have a good eye for a photo:
A worrying obsession with lamps you say? I promise my next post won’t be about lamps of the City of London but as soon as I get a telephoto lens then expect to hear more about weather vanes.
I’ve not been good at ranting recently or perhaps more accurately I have been doing lots of low level grumpy old man ranting which all seems to blend into a general tirade against modernity. I guess you might argue that suitcases with wheels fall into this category but honestly I think it is time we introduced some legislation to control these monsters of the pavement. As a start: anyone wanting to use a suitcase with wheels and a long handle has to take a driving test demonstrating appropriate awareness of their fellow pedestrians, and no one is allowed to be in charge of a suitcase that is too heavy for them to lift up the stairs at a reasonable walking pace.
Thinking further about ranting and what similes we are allowed to use without causing offence, it struck me strange that it is OK to call people (maybe even me) Stalinist when you consider how horrific the crimes that Stalin committed were. Personally I think it is a shame when we have to worry too much about causing offence to people but then I guess I am very fortunate in not having much to be offended about.
A poor month for music – there may have been lots of great stuff out there but I was too busy taking crap photos to hear it. So here’s one that you might well hear at the last party I am ever throwing (only two weeks away now). Despite doing as badly as you can possibly do in German O-level, I still have a bit of a soft spot for German rock music – X-mal Deutschland, Krafwerk, Einstürzende Neubauten etc. – perhaps because I have no idea what they are singing about. But this is probably my favourite, Der Mussolini by D.A.F.
And for something slightly more modern and a tad more romantic: Caribou: Can’t do without you