Posts Tagged ‘London’

Trip to London

June 16, 2015
view down river from Hungerford Bridge

view down river from Hungerford Bridge

I set off later than I would have wished, maybe a couple of hours later. I missed a bus, next bus failed to turn up, as a result I missed the fast train. Long queue at ticket office, missed the next train. When the queue goes down, they open a second window. Typical piss-poor service from South West Trains. Two trains missed, was it worth going?

On the street outside Waterloo Station, a hydrogen powered bus.

Around the South Bank, the streets appear pedestrianised, but actually they are not. Why not?

A helical slide, two helical slides, running from the top of the Heywood gallery. I have never noticed before.

Pleasant walk across Hungerford Bridge, view down the Thames.

Joanna Lumley wishes to spoil this view by building a bridge. No one knows why, and the stupid idea has zero support. This is the same Joanna Lumley who flooded Aldershot with filthy Nepalese.

In Embankment Gardens, banana trees have been planted in the middle of flower beds.

Walk up through Covent Garden and into Neal Street. It is depressing how Neal Street has been destroyed. Sweatshop fashion chains, down a side street Pret a Manger and Costa.

One last meal at Food for Thought. It closes on Sunday. Driven out of business after forty years by a greedy, grasping landlord.

There are now several empty premises in Neal Street, including one next to Food for Thought. Will the vacated Food for Thought join the list? The greedy property company will not care, one more business destroyed. If it sits empty they will offset the losses against tax.

I wanted a 243 bus, but could only find a 242. It went in the right direction.

Waiting at the bus stop, I was reminded of Neuromancer by William Gibson, a damaged dysfunctional society.

Girl at bus stop, one view normal, other side a quarter shaven head.

The bus passed through the City of London.

Joseph Campbell said we judge who is important in society by the size of the buildings. In mediaeval society it was cathedrals and palaces. Passing through the City of London, banks and other parasites on society.

I alighted at Kingland Road.

I guessed correct, only a little way down the road a sign pointed to Hoxton Market. I followed where it pointed, but then no more signs. I guessed which way, and I was correct.

Wonderful fruit and vegetable shop in Hoxton Market.

Filming outside a halal butcher. They objected to me walking by and asked that I moved on. I pointed out I was on public highway. I should have asked to see permission from Hackney Council to film. And raised animal cruelty halal butchers.

I popped in Hoxton News with the Trews canopy. The man serving knew nothing. But he did say he was new that day. I should have suggested they had an A-board outside listing latest Trews, with a code to scan.

What I was looking for was the Trew Era Cafe.

I finally found it, the shutters were down, it was closed. I walked in. Sorry we are closed.

The second time, I arrive to find it closed.

The first time it took me two hours to find. This time one and a half hours, therefore an improvement.

It now closing at six, not seven. Makes sense in the winter, but not in the summer.

I was promised a free coffee if I visit again.

On display Trews t-shirts. The ethical ones, I was told. Strange different sizes from different factories.

Big scandal, expose in Daily Mail, sweatshirts from sweatshops. Russell Brand had placed orders in good faith, part of smear campaign by Daily Mail, if they cared about sweatshops and exploited workers in Bangladesh, they would be exposing the global fashion brands, factory gate price a dollar, retail $70.

I felt one of the t-shirts, very soft, probably organic cotton.

In the coffee bar £30. Where therefore had Daily Mail got the figure of £60 from?

No one was able to answer my questions on the clothing. Fair enough, they are there to make the coffee. But, Russell Brand needs to be more transparent, on sale in the coffee bar, make sure the staff are briefed, can give an account, where made, working conditions, why the huge mark up between factory gate price and retail.

No copies of Revolution on sale, or at least not on display. Trew Era Cafe has been financed from sale of Revolution.

On a shelf, a beautiful carved chessboard with invalid squares. Integral to the board and beneath a cabinet with a drawer contain the chess pieces.

I walked down the road with one of the staff, had an interesting conversation, and parted company at the Regent’s Canal.

I suggested for The Trews, Michel Bawens to talk about open coops, open commons, sharing.

As Trew Era Cafe is a social enterprise, I am surprise it is not an open coop. It is not even a coop.

As it was a pleasant evening, I decided to take a walk along the canal. I was going to walk to Regent’s Park, or at least head in that direction, but decided first to walk the opposite way, which I learnt from a boat, led to Victoria Park.

The boat offered me a lift, said hop on board, but I thought best to walk, as I would know when to turn around.

The boat was big. I am used to narrow boats. This was twice as wide.

The girl piloting the boat very skilled. It passed through a bridge, with only a couple of inches to spare. That was close, I said. She replied it was as close the other side.

She demonstrated the same skill when she brought the boat in to moor.

She managed all this whilst at the same time carry a small child in a sling.

I carried on.

I went past Acton Lock, and a little further.

I saw a sign, which said Victoria Park was as far again as I had already walked. I decided to go no further, or only a little way.

I climbed out at Cambridge Heath Road. I saw if I hopped on a bus, I could go to Mare Street, where I know an excellent restaurant serving burgers. But was not sure where, and I did not wish to walk back along the canal in the dark. Though I did see I could catch a bus which would take me direct to Waterloo Station.

I walked back and climbed out at the next road.

On the way I had passed a boat with music. People hanging around the boat. I was asked did I wish my photo taken with the guy whose picture was on display. I said no. Did I wish my picture taken? No. A stunning blonde leapt off the boat, introduced herself as Emily, invited me on board, told me how well equipped the boat was, would I care to look. I declined her offer.

The cyclists and joggers on the canal are a bloody nuisance. When I turned around to walk back, it was even worse, hordes of joggers in large groups.

Next road I climbed out again.

Not a lot here. A fish n chip shop, Broadway fish bar,  with seating outside.

I asked for haddock skinned, Was told it came with the skin on. I settled for a small portion of chips. They were ok, but not great. Maybe fortunate I did not have the fish.

I joined two French girls sitting outside and had an interesting conversation.

They were of the view as the guy I talked with from Trew Era Cafe, iTunes and Amazon very bad for music, as can only listen to a few seconds of very lofi music. I recommended bandcamp, can listen to entire album, hifi not lofi,  the artist gets a good deal too. I could have added can share, the artist gets the data.

This came about partly due to a discussion on intellectual property rights. It also restricts innovation, hits creativity. I cited Sita Sings the Blues as an example, also 3D printing.

We innovate, copyright stops any further innovation, then when out of copyright, further innovation.

The music in Sita Sings the Blues, once very popular, now not known, because Big Record Labels own the rights, and no money to be made.

The way forward, as pioneered by Michel Bauwens, open coops, open commons, sharing.

It was then walk along the Regent’s Canal, now around ten o’clock and nearly dark. Not many people around, indeed very few,

I walked past Kingsland Road. Luckily I saw a sign.

I was just in time for a bus to Waterloo. I think 243.

I alighted Waterloo Bridge, to enjoy the view then walked to Waterloo Station.

When a book has to be hyped, it is not worth a read. When the advertising covers a huge building, then it must be crap, such is with 50 Shades of Crap.

I arrived home, not long before 1am.

44 Islington Park Street

June 7, 2015
44 Islington Park Street

44 Islington Park Street

Islington Park Street or to be more precise 44 Islington Park Street is four Victorian properties knocked into one.

It was created in the early 1970s by a former Franciscan friar Greg Moore.

His big idea was that vulnerable people such as recovering drug addicts and ex-offenders would live side-by-side with those who did not have problems in a network of communes. He also established the  Crescent Road Community in Kingston upon Thames

The tenants at both communities are now facing eviction by One Housing Group.

One Housing Group are a Housing Association.

A Housing Association from its name, sounds ok, a nice community feel,  but they are not, these are greed-driven, unaccountable, modern day Rachman landlords.

As the tenants of what was then Pavilion Housing Association at Firgrove Court learnt one day when they awoke to find their homes earmarked for a supermarket car park, part of the destruction of Farnborough town centre by a greedy property developer.

One Housing Group are behaving true to form. They want to evict their tenants to realise the asset value of the properties.

One Housing Group (OHG) last month wrote to the communes’ residents saying it intended to “decant” them.

Are people like the contents of a wine bottle, to be decanted?

Decant being a weasel word for eviction.

We are two London communities, one made up of 18 low-income adults who share a cooperative house in Islington, the other is 21 adults and 3 children who share a similar house in Kingston. Our communities have been in existence for nearly 40 years and some of us have lived in our home for over three decades.

One Housing Group, the housing association that owns our properties, has stated that “group homes” such as ours must be “phased out” and that they intend to “decant” us. Court proceedings are being initiated in an attempt to evict all residents from the properties as soon as possible.

Our residents range in age from 4 to 79 and we are thriving examples of supportive, sustainable communal living. We cook, eat and socialise together, make decisions together about how our houses are run, and collectively provide care and support to those of our residents who are young, elderly or sick.

Many of us are vulnerable and will be seriously affected if we are evicted from our home. One older resident has Parkinson’s disease and is likely to be forced into residential care if he is removed from his house. Another spent his youth in foster care and was placed in his house by social services, aged 16; this is the only home he has known. One resident found her community as a place of safety following years of domestic abuse. Children may have to change their schooling and sole parents will lose their support systems and local contacts.

Our way of life offers a positive vision of sustainable, supportive, affordable communal living and an alternative to the social isolation faced by many in the city. Social landlords should be fostering more communities like ours, not tearing us apart.

The experience of the Firgrove Court tenants, was eviction from maisonettes set within extensive green space, to two blocks of ugly flats with a car parking space.

What we are seeing for the two properties in London, is ongoing social cleansing. Tenants being cleansed from desirable parts of London, being kicked out of their homes to enable the owners of the properties be it private landlords or social landlords profiting from the evictions and repossessions.

Please sign the petition opposing eviction of these two communities.

Top story in Real Estate Late Edition (Tuesday 9 June 2015).

Trip to London

April 27, 2015

Somewhat late setting setting off for London, but had I set off earlier, it probably would not have made much difference, as no trains for two hours, due to someone being killed on the line. The train I caught was ten minutes late, then ran very slowly.

At Waterloo Station, many people milling around. I assume due to many cancelled and delayed trains.

Hungerford Bridge

Hungerfotd Bridge

From Waterloo Station a pleasant walk to Covent Garden.

view downstream from Hungerford Bridge

view downstream from Hungerford Bridge

The view downstream from Hungerford Bridge, one of the finest views in London, or was. A view of St Paul’s, but now being destroyed by ugly high rise buildings.

Excellent lunch at Food for Thought. More’s the pity it closes 21 June 2015, after forty years in business.

Covent Garden is being destroyed. Walking down Neal Street to Food For Thought, down a side street, Pret a Manger and Costa.

After lunch, it was then try to find Trew Era Cafe.

I knew what bus I wanted, or thought I did, and vaguely knew from where to catch it.

The bus I wanted was No 243, which would have taken me straight to where I wished to be.

Only there was no 243. It was being diverted.

No 38 was the bus for Hackney.

Welcome to Hackney

Welcome to Hackney

I hopped on a No 38, and got off at Dalston Junction.

Now which bus, that was the question?

I hopped on a No 243, to be told, wrong direction.

I hopped back off, walked back to where I needed to be.

Not sure what bus I needed, I asked a driver, no, you do do not want a 76, you want 243.

Woman at bus stop said no, you want a No 76.

I caught the next No 76, got off, had no idea where I was.

Walked through a park, came out by Hoxton Street Market.

Headed to where I thought I may needed to be, then realised there it was, there was Trew Era Cafe.

Only problem was, it was now eight o’clock, and it closed at seven.

It had taken me two hours from Covent Garden.

Now it was find Queen of Hoxton, where 13 Shades of Romanian Party was being hosted.

I set off in the right direction.

fruit and vegetables

fruit and vegetables

As I set off I passed Hoxton News adversing The Trews and a very temping fruit and vegetable display. I was very tempted by the black tomatoes.

A long walk.

It seemed to be on the boundary between Shoreditch and the City of London.

I think I was now in the City of London, where all the greedy bankers screw the rest of us.

Queen of Hoxton a dump, its only redeeming feature a rooftop terrace. The 13 Shades of Romanian Party was not up to much either.

How to get to Waterloo Station?

I could have caught a No 26 bus, but could not see where from, and no one knew either. But I was told Liverpool Street Station was not far and how to get there. And so I caught the tube from Liverpool Street.

This Is Fucking Vandalism, London’s History And Culture Are Being Destroyed In The Name Of Greed

April 20, 2015

Originally posted on the void:

black-capsAround 150 people joined a protest outside The Black Cap public house in Camden yesterday after it closed suddenly and without warning last week.  The long running LGBT venue opened in the 1960s, surviving throughout the days when gay people faced prosecution.  Now it is falling victim to rampant gentrification that respects neither culture or history and seeks only to make as much money as possible for greedy property developers.

Speaking at the protest drag artist Titti La Camp, a former performer at the pub, said 10 gay venues had closed in central London since the current Tory government weren’t elected.  In an all too familiar story, those trying to save The Black Cap believe it is likely to be converted into yet more luxury flats that nobody local can afford.

camden-marketsA few hundred yards away a large part of Camden Market is currently a building site, awaiting being converted…

View original 795 more words

Aylesbury Estate

April 9, 2015
Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

Social cleansing, 2,700 homes to be demolished, to make way for private housing development.

There was a ballot in 2001 of the estate asking if they would like to leave things as they were or transfer all the stock into a housing association, and 73 per cent said ‘don’t do anything’.

The housing estate surrounded by a ‘Berlin Wall, which the local council has spent £140,000 of public money to erect.

Access to the estate for the few remaining residents, is through a security checkpoint manned by private security thugs.

The residents are penned in like animals.

Council is harassing tenants and forcing them out by deliberate neglect.

Private development to be sold to Middle East, Russia and China.

Southwark Council, that is carrying out this social cleansing with the help of private security thugs  is a Labour run Council.

There is not a jot of difference between Labour and the Tories.

Over the long Easter Weekend, activists tore down sections of the ‘Berlin Wall’.

Why is this not being discussed by the mainstream media? Why is it not an election issue?

Social cleansing is happening across London.

St Paul’s sunrise

January 10, 2015
St Paul's sunrise

St Paul’s sunrise

Sunrise St Paul’s Cathedral a few days ago.

To the left, the Central Criminal Court, known to most as the Old Bailey. Justice, her arms outstretched, holds her sword and scales.

Trafalgar Square

October 18, 2014
Whitehall as seen from Trafalgar Square 1839.

Whitehall as seen from Trafalgar Square 1839

Whitehall as seen from Trafalgar Square 1839.

This one of the earliest known photographs.

East London from the air

May 22, 2014

A unique and fascinating look at East London from the air.

Music ‘Stratosphere’ kindly donated by David O’Brien / Gareth Johnson.

Victorian London

October 21, 2013
the London of Charles Dickens

the London of Charles Dickens

Judith Flanders signing The Victorian City

Judith Flanders signing The Victorian City

A talk by Judith Flanders at The Electric Theatre, part of the Guildford Book Festival, scouring through the programme, one of the few events it looked worth going to.

And yes, it was well worth going to, a fascinating speaker, only a pity she did not have longer than an hour, and several minutes were taken up at the beginning with introductions.

I have never understood why I have to be told how eminent or erudite a speaker is, I can draw my own conclusions. And why do we have to have the ghastly TV format, let a speaker speak.

Judith Flanders started off by defining the period her book covered, 1812-1870, the life of Charles Dickens, this was pre-Victorian which meant she could show how the Victorian city had evolved, and the late Victorian was not so interesting.

Victorian London, was not just special to England, it was special to the world, it was the largest city the world had seen.

Cities, until then, we know their size, the walled city. There were various factors that controlled the size of the city, how to you get the food and goods in, how do you get the sewerage out?

Her starting point was a line by Dickens, the dead were elevated to waist height. She had read this many times, and it suddenly struck her, what did this mean?

Note: This is not an exact quote.

The cemeteries lacked room. This was solved in two ways. Dig the bodies up, break them up, and dispose of the bodies. This could be a short a period as four weeks had elapsed, before bodies were dug up and disposed of. The other, was to keep piling the bodies one atop the other. There were graveyards as tall as a one storey building. Hence the line the dead were elevated waste high. Readers of Charles Dickens would have known what was being spoken of, but it has become lost to us.

The city would awake in the morning. No alarm clocks, arrangements would be made, to be knocked up. No time for breakfast, cooking breakfast would have meant lighting a fire, too costly in time and fuel.

Public transport was available, stage coach which was expensive, and the omnibus, which was extortionately expensive, later had the tram, which was affordable, and special fares on the trains, which enabled people to commute. There was also steam ferries plying up and down the river.

Lacking any means of affordable transport, the only alternative was to walk. People came in waves, the workers, followed by the clerks, earlier were the drovers bringing the animals to Smithfield market.

The roads, or what passed as roads, were chaos, horse and carts, carriages, stagecoaches, all over the place. The walkers on the other hand were very disciplined, Dickens described them as a black line.

Having had no breakfast, this was picked up on the hoof as they walked to work.

Street sweepers, swept the streets clean.

As the clerks neared their place of work, shoe shine boys, who cleaned their shoes, brushed down their trousers.

Life was lived out on the street. Dickens was a journalist, he recorded what he saw on the street.

Trafalgar Square built, Regents Street. Regents Street was a destination, not a place to pass through.

A fire would be street theatre, everyone would come to watch. The firemen would call upon volunteers to man the pumps, the water was literally pumped. Very hard work, had to change manpower every ten minutes. The volunteers would be paid, and fed and watered.

One coffee stall, we know his shift, from his accounts. He would set up at nine o’clock at night to serve the theatre goers, then those worse for wear from a night out drinking, then the waves of different people coming in to work, the drovers, the workers, the managers. During the night, he would let the prostitutes huddle around his stall to keep warm. At nine o’clock in the morning, he would go home.

At night, the prostitutes would walk in for the night shift. We know where they lived from the Census. Houses where there were girls in their twenties, houses where there were no men.

A city of water shortages, water available for only a few hours, that is when it was available.

We can map when clean water and sewerage systems were connected as the rate of disease dropped. Before connected to mains water, the water had to be collected from standpipes in the street.

The Thames was much wider. The Embankment was built to house the sewers.

Women were on the streets, even those who stayed at home, interacted with the street, as there could be as many as twenty or more deliveries to a house, including the postman who managed a dozen deliveries in a day.

The rich lived almost cheek-by-jowl with the poor. The rich lived on the main street, the poor in the side streets.

The poor would live a whole family to a room, everyone would work, they earnt enough to sustain life, but nothing more. If one of the family fell ill, they would fall into destitution.

A city of people, not a city of buildings.

One Tree Books were running the bookstall. A pile of books. I did not think they would sell, neither did they. Only a couple were left. This must have had everything to do with the calibre of the speaker.

Book signings of The Victorian City.

Trans-Siberian journey

October 20, 2013
trans-Siberian journey

trans-Siberian journey

trans- Siberian journey

trans- Siberian journey

The popular vegetarian restaurant ‘Food For Thought’ is now showing an exhibition of work featuring illustrations inspired by the journey I took across Siberia by train in May this year. — Meredith Owen

An exhibition of art by Meredith Owen at Food for Thought in Covent Garden, inspired by a trans-Siberian journey.

The paintings could have been larger, and the artist doing himself no favours by hiding his art behind glass.

Aleph, is an account by Paulo Coelho of a journey on the Trans-Siberian railway.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 650 other followers