Sunday, 17 July 2005

How often does that happen?


An aircraft carrier went past my living room this morning. Possibly the most bizarre sight since I moved into this flat nearly two months ago. The aircraft carrier had four tugs and three police boats with it. In such sensitive times (as announcements on every train station platform remind me) I still find it weird that the navy needs a police escort. But then this is Woolwich and they still had Thamesmead to go past. Without the police there the local residents may have stripped the ship of all its metal in a thrice.
The river at this end of London is fairly busy. It's not the most upmarket part of London but there are enough yachts to give the impression of more peaceful climes. Huge cargo ships arrive every so often, there's a new ferry service operating a couple of minutes walk away to take residents of a posh new housing estate up to London, most evenings there are some grotty looking party boats no doubt the guests are too surprised to complain about not seeing central London ("We're where? You mean the Dome is all we'll see?" "Don't forget the Thames Barrier!"). But of all the boats I see, I'm obsessed with the Woolwich Free Ferry, the lumbering, ugly vessels that take HGVs from one bank to the other. All day. All week. The journey is brief, it's value, with no Thames crossings for miles either side, is huge. It's such a simple, old fashioned operation, I hope it stays that way forever. You can keep your huge navy ships, I'll keep the ferry named after Ernest Bevin. You can keep the occasional oddity on the river. I'll hang onto the mundane, the everyday.

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