March 16, 2004
Suburban Textures

Well - although it’s a few days from the official start of the Spring season it felt like a pleasant Summer’s morning on the way out this morning. There’s nothing nicer first thing on a sunny morning than the sights and sounds of the walk to the bus stop. A quiet interlude between waking up to the depressing radio news and the semi-spirited daily commute to work on the buses, tubes and trains.

I always make a point of not wiring my senses up to the MP3 player until I’m on the bus - preferring to spend a few minutes marvelling at the textures of suburban London whilst I can.

A Royal Mail letter box - dating from the reign of King George V - 1910-1936
(These are absolutely everywhere in the suburbs.)

The short walk to the bus stop takes me past a couple of residential street corners. It’s at these corners that you will often find anonymous-looking dark green “boxes” planted on the side of the pavement near the kerb of the road. These boxes belong to the local cable TV company. And local youths like to break them open at night - so that they expose all of the electrical innards to the world in the morning. It’s a distressing sight - and is a reminder of how vulnerable public services and utilities are. However, it always amuses me to know that each one of the wires in there corresponds to some nearby homeowner’s cable TV socket. And no sooner than the cable guy comes along to fix the broken box - the next day it will have been ripped open again.

Cable TV - exposed.

As I reach my bus stop - which is directly in front of a row of houses - I take a quick look at how all the wheelie-bins are doing. Wheelie-bins are a prominent, if not grotesque, feature of the suburban landscape in London. Most of the housing here was designed well before the days that wheelie-bins were invented - and therefore there is no obvious place to hide them. More often than not - homeowners just leave them in the front garden (or more accurately: front yard). And recent London borough council recycling initiatives mean that every household now has all manner of different wheelie-bins and refuse containers. They might be considered by many to have blighted the landscape - but they’re here to stay. The interesting thing is this: in some gardens they seem to have changed position from day to day. It’s almost as if they have a life of their own …

Wheelie-bins gathering around the Spring daffodils.

Posted by jag at March 16, 2004 08:06 AM

It took you that long to figure out that the Indian lady is Parmindar .…
There seems to be too much of the wheelie bins - Reminded of the song - Too much of a good thing is bad enuf (by whom????)

Posted by: sat on March 16, 2004 01:59 PM

Yes - I’m not too good at remembering celebrity faces names. Not sure who the song is by either!

Posted by: Jag on March 16, 2004 02:14 PM

Interesting comment about the mp3 player. I rarely have music on (even when working) and don’t have a Walkman or mp3 player. I wondered if people that wore them all the time used them to shut out sights as well as sounds!

Posted by: Lisa on March 16, 2004 05:33 PM

Lisa - yes indeed - wearing walkman/MP3-player specifically transforms all audio-visual senses. There was a great BBC article about this topic a few days ago. Let me find it …
OK - found it. Although the topic was about iPOD - the concepts equally apply to any sort of walkman/MP3-Player:

Posted by: Jag on March 16, 2004 08:16 PM

Guilty. Now I have switched from pedal to leg power, I have a walkman on all the time. It makes it easier to just empty your head. Anyway without I found I was spending too much time people watching to make a repetitive journey more interesting, it slowed me down.

Posted by: stroppycow on March 16, 2004 10:09 PM

Hi again Strop: I am empathic. It’s so much easier to disconnect from what’s going on around when immersed in the music!

Posted by: Jag on March 16, 2004 10:32 PM
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