1. The view from the Thames barrier back towards Canary Wharf at sunset.

     

  2. For anyone interested in urban walks, here’s a little article I wrote for a neat online magazine called ArtSelector. Inspired by some awesome narrated tours of London that the Guardian offer, it follows psychogeographer and London historian Iain Sinclair in a ramble down from the O2 arena to the Thames barrier.

     
  3. A man is attempting to change travel history after unveiling his own updated version of the iconic London Underground map.

    British designer Mark Noad has redesigned Harry Beck’s 1931 classic version to show the routes and distances between all London stations in a more geographically accurate way.

    According to Mr Noad, the map has nothing to do with Transport for London (TFL) but he has designed it in a way that still retains the clarity of the original.

    Mr Noad is reported as saying: “They form the basis for a major criticism of the diagram that it bears little or no relation to London at street level. This distorts the actual physical locations of some stations, leading to confusion when selecting a route to take, or whether it is quicker to walk between stations.”

    He posted on his blog last week: “This is not intended as a replacement to the official version, it is simply another way to look at it. We all think differently so you can decide which fits best with your way of thinking. For the first time there is a usable alternative.”

    (Source: lifeofalondoner)

     

  4. Red Rush

    Urban zoologists met with the London Transport Authority earlier tonight to discuss the plight of the city’s buses.

    In a syndrome termed DCD, that’s ‘Depot Collapse Disorder’, the buses have, for the last few months, been abandoning their regular routes, and dying out.

    It was in late March that first reports came of the missing 333s, despatched on their regular timetable north from Streatham but not returning, fading into the dark, never to be seen again.

    The phenomenon quickly spread, with unexplained absences reported on the streets of Kensington, and as far north as Harrow, as far west as Southall.

    News stations followed up reports of the number 43s, endlessly circling the roundabout at Highbury Corner, their motors howling, their tyres ever curving, winding round like mournful dogs chasing their tails.

    Some simply halt at the roadside. Others have breached walls and fences, leaping down cuttings to intersect railway lines, colliding with oncoming trains in splinters of fire, tearful metal and dark smoke.

    There have been so many casualties. Today, boarding a bus is an act of bravery.

    At night the city locks her doors, and the windows of Harlesden tower blocks fill with eyes, as lost swarms of double-deckers pour down the north circular in a red rush.

    Some rust in the suburbs. Some burn out in the crimson graveyard in Brockwell Park.

    Some, rabid, hurtle through washing lines in terraced back yards and dive with relief into the canal, and sink. Some twist into a honking rage, mount those in front with a long launch, thrust, crush and rape in screams of violated steel. Some, thankfully, have been tranquilised, their tyres deflated and their axles snapped, as part of the panicked attempts to stop the syndrome spreading to infect the trains, the boats, the cars. Already some reports have come of a florist in Stoke Newington mauled to death by a surge of bicycles, torn to pieces in a horror of spokes and tingly bells.

    They are worried, those in charge. We are all worried. The red heartbeat of our streets is eating itself and none of us, now, none of us know where we are going.

    Because today the streets are deserted. The Southwark Bridge, City Road, the Elephant and Castle, the back streets of Pimlico. Parliament Square. Wormwood Scrubs. All are as empty as night.

    Those of us that stayed flit quickly from door to door, fearing the growl of the rogue 21.Rotorblades thud high in the air, a criss-cross of continued surveillance that reaches us with the weather. “Today, scattered showers, and a system of single-decker 236s gathering momentum towards Hackney.” We watch from indoors or underground. Hiding. Waiting.

    And so today we sit in the barred-window cafes, drinking wine the colour of their skins and smoking cigarillos with the confidence of knowing cancer won’t kill us, they will, and wonder, with what is left of ourselves, wonder when so much is lost, and so much is missing, and we look through the glass and recognise nothing, we spread out our maps and wonder how best to make it to Dalston Junction from Paddington Basin.

     

  5. Nine

    The tiger’s gone. On tour. This morning. I wanted to take him to the airport but he said it was a stupid idea, which it was, sitting for forty minutes each way on the rattling blue of the Piccadilly line at six in the morning. So I woke up to the smell of him, the slam of a door, and the echo of a kiss on my temple.

     

    London in the sun. Raucous and proud. I found breakfast at a deli: eggs, toast, and chilli jam, and licked crumbs from my lips as I looked for the printer’s. The streets are filled. Scaffolders, street sweepers and tall head-scarfed women. The copy shop smelt of ammonia, which reminded me of dad. The man at the counter was eating mackerel and beans. Brixton is full of endless food.

     

    I took one hundred CVs back North of the river and filed them in my desk. I’d meant to pound the streets with them but my shoes were falling apart and I felt suddenly raw at the loss of him. Tiger. Funny how that needs to be clarified. I took my shirt and my shoes off and lay on the bed, listening to the radio tuning itself in and out, and trying not to think about any of it.

     

    I dreamed I was at a station, in the dead of night, waiting for a train that never came. A mist of rain hanging over the platforms, bare and empty. I heard footsteps behind me. Avi walking from the ticket office towards me. She smiled that horrible, fluoride smile, held me, and whispered something in my ear.

     

    I woke up to white noise and the smell of three in the morning. The daylight turned to vapour and left me stranded in the night, wide awake and lonesome. I made an omelette. Eggs twice in one day. I took my coat from the door and walked up and down the roads, looking for something to make the sleeplessness disappear, and found a fox under a railway bridge, nosing at a rubbish bin. He turned to me. We held each other’s gazes for what felt like forever, and for a moment I thought he was going to say something. The walls had graffiti on. I read them as a freight train lumbered slowly over the steel above. ‘Follow’, it said. Like an instruction. I turned back to the fox, but he was gone. An empty road: a line of streetlamps leading off to nothing. A clock chimed in the distance and I walked home as the sun came up, remembering what Avi had whispered to me in the dream.

     

    ‘I have important information,’ she’d said.

     

    Bullshit. I’m going crazy.

     

  6. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard this Northbound service. It’s so nice to see so many of you on the train this morning, though unfortunately those rumours of a free bar have turned out to be false. Due to a depletion of custard creams, the tea trolley service has been discontinued, but on the bright side, there’s only eight months til Christmas. This is a Northern line service calling all stations to Edgware, via Charing Cross. Mind the doors please: mind the closing doors."
    — Train driver at Kennington station
     
  7. This is a wonderful design project on a disused elevated train track through New York City. Has anyone been? I love everything about it, except that it’s not here.