It’s quite often enjoyable when, in life, you hear about the number rising. The score in your favourite football or cricket match. The amount of money raised for charity in a specific appeal. The proportion of the electorate’s votes counted for the politician you’re rooting for. etc. etc. etc.
And conversely - it’s often quite sad when the number that’s rising is your age - or the extra amount of tax you have to pay this year - or the number of extra minutes you have to wait for the bus to get you home.
But the emotions associated with these things seem to pale into insignificance when Mother Nature decides to play the game. For me, it’s heartbreaking when it’s the number of souls confirmed dead. Not knowing for a minute what was coming at them. And soul-destroying when you see the number rising by the hour with every news bulletin.
I once looked out from my hotel window and stared at the shanty town opposite. Just inside the walls of the hotel compound was a 5-star swimming pool with tourists sunbathing. Just outside was the flooded shanty town with young children wading through the muddy waters trying to get across the street. It was Kuala Lumpur. In the year 2000 I think. A sight like that is enough to change your politics. Did it change mine? Well - I still have a hard time trying to reconcile with the statement “Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you” - whenever I hear those words.
But nearly 60,000 and rising is depressing. And watching the number rise on 24 hour TV is enough to make me cry.
My last ride on Route 79 this year. At the beginning of the year the buses on my beloved Route 79 were shiny and brand new. A year has passed, and on the surface at least, they still are.
Although - one year on - it’s rare to find a seat on the upper deck where the window hasn’t been indelibly etched with the musings of London’s scratch-graffiti artists - their very existence provides a great example of an object of focus upon which the world outside the window has often become the backdrop for many a daydream. Dreams in which I’ve far too often wondered in melancholy what the rest of the day, or week, or even life, might bring - not just for me and the ones I love - but for those strangers who I see out there. On the streets below. Or for the people in places I cannot see - but can only imagine.
Whether it’s empty or full - or even when someone sits on the seat next to me - every journey is a solitary experience. The slipping in and out of reality is in the taking of a seat after boarding - or the getting up when it’s time to get off . And the journey in between is no longer about being aware of where the bus is going - or what’s going on outside. For in a manner that I cannot explain I somehow know exactly where the bus is at any particular moment. It’s almost as if, with my mind elsewhere, my body keeps track of every turn, every bump, and every little change of sound associated with every little change in the rev of the engine.
Some people ask me why I don’t drive to work - after all it would be a lot quicker. I have almost always given what I would call politically-correct, environmentally-friendly answers. The truth of the matter is that this twice-daily dose of daydreaming has become an addiction. It’s the only time I get to be by myself - and although it’s an escape into a mental and depressing unreality bounded by a very real, and sometimes harsh, scrolling landscape - it’s probably no different to the semi-religious need that other people have to watch depressing TV shows like Eastenders - or Holby City.
It is an addiction, I think.
To those of you that have graced these pages this year: I hope you have derived something useful from the words, pictures, sounds and moving-images that I have posted here.
With a bitterly cold wind cutting your face into shreds whilst waiting at the bus shelter first thing in the morning - it’s not surprising when you feel even colder looking at the advertising that adorns the bus shelters in the run up to the Christmas holiday season.
A double-shot of brandy would do me fine instead - but I have work to go to. And she looks vaguely like someone I know. Reminds me that Imperial Leather do an orange flavour version too.
(Wembley High Road bus stop - advertising Cointreau orange-flavour spirit drink.)
Walking past the office area of my boss on the way to the coffee machine to go get a cup of tea, I couldn’t help but be taken by the silhouette of this most Royal of households forming the backdrop of a rather romantic view in the sunset over the county of Royal Berkshire this afternoon.
Windsor Castle is apparently the largest occupied castle in the world.
(There is the top of a multi-storey shopping centre car park in the foreground.)
The lack of the Union flag indicated that the Queen was probably not home at the moment - but that didn’t stop me going back to my desk to get my camera to capture the moment. I tried to forget that the top deck of the multi-storey shopping centre car park in Slough dominated the foreground - and was kind of glad that the camera’s autofocus subsystem didn’t target the dirty grime of the window I had to zoom through.
The red of the London Bus is the same as the red used in the “roundel” of the London underground - and is the same as the red used to identify the Central Line. It is Pantone 485, CMYK (M:100, Y:91), RGB (223,0,44), or Websafe (CC,00,33)
In my mind - London Bus red is a deep and reassuring red that has a particularly pleasing, near-iconic, contrast with the greens and greys of London’s suburbs.
Meanwhile - back in London. A couple of postings back it was all about “Art Deco” architecture and my favourite London urban highway (the A40) - this time it’s a roadside cafe (of the “greasy spoon” type perhaps?) in a 1950s American diner “silver-bullet” style - strangely enough - in Perivale - and practically right opposite the Hoover Building.
For years I have driven past Starvin’ Marvin’s whilst cruisin’ the ‘burbs on the A40 Westbound - and I have always wondered what it’s like inside - and have always made a mental note to stop and find out next time - but I always never have. It sure does look odd though.
(It’s on the A40 Westbound - just opposite the Hoover Building near Perivale.)
Changing the topic away from the dreary London weather for a few minutes; some of you may remember back in the summer when I posted about some observations about people’s behaviour and use of their mobile phones here in London. A wanted to do a more serious study on this topic - and found out that Japan is a great place to get a feel for how us folks in Europe might one day be using our mobile phones in the future. So I decided to go to Japan to find out. (Did I forget to mention that I went to Japan this summer?)
(Photo taken in the Shinjuku district.)
And so - back in June/July - I spent some time in Tokyo learning all about how the Japanese use their mobile phones. On one of my research missions I spent a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon in the heart of Tokyo; an hour in the Ginza district (mostly department stores and shops) and an hour in Akasuka district (mostly hotels, businesses and restaurants). Just me, standing on street corners with my Sony Handycam observing (and capturing on film) people using their mobile phones. A few weeks later - back in London - I collected up all my video clips and assembled them into a kind of “pop video” - titled “Tokyo Phone Cop: To Protect and Surf” with a Starsky and Hutch theme tune soundtrack:
It’s a WMV (Windows Media Video) file that’s 6.6 Mbytes in size with a running time of 2 minutes 45 seconds. If you are on broadband/ADSL/Cable - it should only take a few minutes to download. Just save it to a folder of your choice and then turn up your volume and double-click on it when it’s finished downloading. I hope you enjoy it!
(Apologies for those on dialup - you’d best go make some tea or coffee whilst it’s downloading. I think it’s worth the wait - but I would say that wouldn’t I.)
I spent some time living and working in the USA a few years ago - and one thing I remember amongst the many strange comments that Americans made about London was something called “London Fog”. Yes - it is a bit bizarre really - but I am guessing that there are quite a few Americans think that the weather in London is perpetually foggy? Maybe it’s a perception obtained from films/TV-shows that are shot on location in London - e.g. documentaries about Jack the Ripper perhaps?
In any case - it actually was foggy today in London. And has been pretty much all day.
(Picture taken from the top deck of Route 297 bus in Perivale - crossing the A40.)
Been doing Route 297 a lot lately - between Wembley High Road and Ealing Broadway. The buses on this route are old and smelly. But they are always very warm - which makes them very nice on a cold day. The interesting thing about Route 297 is that it winds its way through some highly residential areas of West London - Perivale being one of them.
I always used to think of Perivale as that place just off the the A40 where the Hoover Building is. (By the way - the A40 is my favourite London highway - and I also did a short video of a car journey on the A40 Westbound earlier this year.)
For those who know the famous Hoover Building - it’s a magnificent example (in London) of an architectural genre called “Art Deco” - a highly stylised form of design that was born in the 1920s - but kind of died out round about when the Second World War started. (Other famous examples of buildings in the Art Deco style are the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in New York’s Manhattan.)
As the bus trundles past the front gardens of the citizens of Perivale it becomes obvious that the Hoover Building is not the only example of the Art Deco style in this suburb. There are some very obvious signs of it practically everywhere. Take for example the local doctor’s surgery: