Wednesday, 12 April 2006

This could be the saddest dusk ever seen

Without wishing to take Wordsworth’s London as the template for this (Richard Ashcroft tried it once, wasn’t totally unsuccessful either), I wandered around London a couple of days ago. I was up in the City to meet a couple of friends for lunch. And I’m specifically referring to the area between the Bank of England and Jewry Street (think Tower Hill tube and you’re about right). Lunch was fine but just walking around, not having worked in the area since the summer of 1992, I struggled to catch up on fourteen years of changes. I like the area though. Mostly because it contains some of the most straightforward and the most adventurous architecture around, not all of it good. Also, the street names are worth investigating although I don’t intend to do that here. No, I was depressed by what I saw throughout the whole day, a sure sign of aging and way too much pointless introspection. Using whatever definition of sad you deem appropriate, here are the saddest things that crossed my mind that day.

1) Groups of boys drinking beer at train stations.

2) People who take soap operas as their primary cultural reference point.
3) London streets where every fifth building is a coffee shop.
4) Groups of men drinking beer at train stations.
5) City gents who walked four abreast along the pavement and expect you to get out of the way and are annoyed when you dare to stand your ground or question their parentage.
6) Men who wear way too much aftershave.
7) London streets where every first and fourth building has a food shop, especially those with one word names like food, eat, snack, snak, and especially Benjys. Time was when Benjys was a pile ‘em, knock ‘em out cheap, turn a deaf ear to complaints shop much loved by those who didn’t earn much. Know they seem to have added themselves to the list of shops that get in everywhere. I walked past twenty plus in the Square Mile alone. They have extended their reach to Woolwich for goodness sake. And the high street (Powis Street in case you care) here is stuffed full of Poundland and mobile phone shops.
8) How sad HMS Belfast looks these days. Seriously, have a look from London Bridge. It’s time for an old fashioned scuttling
9) Men drinking beer at train stations on their own. But then as the Echo and the Bunnymen reunion reminded us all, nothing ever lasts forever.
10) Tourists. No, really. I’ll write some more on this later but it’s a subject close to my heart.
11) And what the hell happened to the Three Tuns on Jewry Street? A truly awful pub but one I went to a lot so to see there has been the now traditional change of name with plenty of painted on chalk writing for the menus is pretty dispiriting.
12) People who write lists.
13) Shit.