Wonderful world, beautiful people

Something I often find happens, don’t ask me why, is that people have this need to strike up conversations with me in which they go on about how awful London is and how terrible Londoners are. I have no idea why they specifically feel the need to tell me this. It’s always in a “they” kind of way, as if I’m not a London person and therefore will not be offended by the suggestion that I’m rude, arrogant, immoral and unapproachable.

And indeed, these allegations about how Londoners are so terrible will never include the person making the accusation. Oh sure, they live in London, they work in London, but they’re not a Londoner. My reply to such people tends to be “And what are you doing about it?” My personal experience is that you get out of people what you put in. If you’re friendly and good-humoured, then people will generally be friendly and good-humoured to you. Of course, you’ll always get some jerks who repay your good humour with rudeness or speeches about how Londoners are rubbish, but I find that generally the rule holds.

Today was a rather interesting day if you’re me, and I am. I took a trip into Hackney to pick up some tickets for a Last Tuesday Society event. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Hackney. You know what? I quite like the place. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure. But I reckon I could live there quite happily. The Last Tuesday Society’s HQ is roughly equidistant between London Fields and Cambridge Heath stations on the line out of Liverpool Street (although my estimates of distance tend to be skewed by my tendency to wander off the main road whenever I see something interesting). The road runs parallel to the railway and crosses the Regent’s Canal.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of the Last Tuesday Society’s HQ. From the outside, it looks like one of those weird junk shops you get, the ones that are really gloomy and messy and grimy and there’s nothing you’d ever want in there and the whole place stinks of cheap tobacco and you decide to leave, but when you turn around there is no door. Inside it’s not so bad. The woman behind the counter was, contrary to my expectations, not a witch. Well, not that I could see, anyway. And I was able to get the tickets cheaper than expected – not so much because of my immense personal charm as because they’re cheaper when the Society don’t have to post them. There is a museum attached to the shop, and when I have more time (possibly next weekend), I’ll take a look in. It advertises itself as being for the over-21s only, so it should be awesome.

I crossed the canal and headed to Cambridge Heath station. I also photographed the structure you see on your right, which, contrary to popular belief, is a gas holder, not a gasometer. There’s quite a lot of former industry around here, and I plan to photograph as much of it as I can before it gets turned into exclusive luxury flats or some bee-ess like that.

The train service from Cambridge Heath seemed pretty infrequent, perhaps due to the proximity of the Central Line. In any case, I simply couldn’t be arsed to wait the better part of 20 minutes and so walked a bit further into Bethnal Green.

Last time I was in Bethnal Green was a few months back, and that time I had made an ill-advised late-night walk to Aldwych. This time I simply hopped on the Central Line to Holborn. I really do need to explore the area, though. Maybe next weekend.

The other part of my plan for today was to visit the London Transport Museum (thank God they’ve done away with the ridiculous “London’s Transport Museum” title) and take a look at their Suburbia exhibition, which closes next weekend.

I have to say, I think the Museum has improved greatly as a result of expanding its remit. Back in “the day,” as the kids say, it was purely the collection owned by London Transport. It now deals with all forms of transport from the late 18th century onwards, and as a result gives a much broader view of the city. It even has an exhibit on the future of transport in London, which seems rather dystopian (one of the possibilities they give for the future, for example, is 30% of people in London suddenly dying). The only complaint I would have is that the labelling for many of the exhibits is unclear.

In my silliness, while wandering around the museum, I managed to leave my jacket somewhere. It’s a lovely bottle-green jacket in corduroy that inspires many compliments, and which I like very much. More importantly, though, it had the tickets from the Last Tuesday Society in the pocket. According to the face value of the tickets, they would have been worth a total of £240 (approximately one hundred times what I paid for the jacket itself). I retraced my steps with a rising sense of panic. I found a staff member and asked if they’d seen it – they rang down to the cloakroom, and not only did they have the jacket, but another staff member offered to show me the way to said cloakroom. Excellent service all round.

In short, London Transport Museum = good.


Filed under Buildings and architecture, Current events, East End and Docklands, Geography, London, London Underground, Museums, Photos, Psychogeography, Randomness, Suburbia, Transport, Weird shops, West End

2 responses to “Wonderful world, beautiful people

  1. Max

    I once heard that a third of people living in London were born here, a third had moved here from another part of the country and a third were born overseas. Somewhere else I was told that at any one time a third of people living in London wanted to move away and while I’m sure these numbers are somewhat arbitrary my own empirical evidence generally supports this.

    Shame you didn’t visit that locale on Saturday as had you followed the Regent’s Canal west you would have stumbled upon Broadway Market and the Banh Mi stall; Vietnamese sandwiches that are the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon stroll. Was up there myself the weekend before doing a bit of business and ended up hiking from the Hackney Road up to Hackney Central via London Fields; très plaisant.

    And once north of the Canal you are officially in Hackney. Pedantic of me I know but I get fussy on the subject of anything within the E post codes.

  2. Pingback: Hackneyed ideas | London Particulars

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