Category Archives: Randomness

The Beasts with Two Backs

Saturday was a busy, busy day. It started when I woke up in bed with two women and an empty champagne bottle. However, because this is the real world, the reason I was in bed with two women was because we’d passed out watching Moulin Rouge. The champagne is more complicated, and remind me to tell you about it some time.

Rashly, I had agreed to meet the Da and the Sis in London for lunch, and so I had to stagger back from Fulwell to Colliers Wood to get myself into some sort of respectable state. On the way, I decided that mobile phones should be banned on buses, purely because when you have a pounding headache and rising nausea, there is little that is more annoying than a guy sitting directly behind you, babbling non-stop for the entire journey. Well, actually, screaming kids are more annoying. There was one of those, too.

I had hoped a shower, a snooze and some lunch would take care of the hangover. Even a hair of the dog at the Princess Louise in Holborn didn’t help. This was particularly lame, as I was supposed to be meeting some of my theatrical chums at the Natural History Museum.

Our destination was the Sexual Nature exhibition, and after half an hour in line in the sun (with a hangover, I don’t think I mentioned that before) we were in. The exhibition, if you haven’t seen it, is basically devoted to the subject of reproduction in the animal kingdom. Reproduction is a hugely important part of life – if you go with Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Gene theory, it’s basically the meaning of life. But what makes this such an interesting exhibition is the incredible variety of it out there.

The exhibition covers a very wide area, from mating displays to pheromonesto  The Deed Itself to birth and those early days of life. Each section in turn covers a huge and incredible variety. Take the seahorse, where the males are the ones who give birth. Or ducks, in which the females have evolutionary strategies to deal with gang rape. Or the angler fish, for whom the males are so much smaller than the females that scientists initially thought they were parasites (any radical feminists in the readership?).

Isabella Rossellini is a strange woman.

Although such a broad topic is by necessity going to be unable to cover any individual topic in great depth, it certainly brought home the incredible variation among the many, many species with which we share the planet. We were particularly taken by the section on scent, including a rather pungent exhibit enabling you to experience the smell of jaguar piss. And there were a number of very strange short films by Isabella Rossellini from the Green Porno series. Good fun.

Following a swift cheap-and-cheerful Chinese meal, we headed over to Holborn, to the Princess Louise. As I think I’ve said before, this is one of my all-time favourite pubs, due to its pure Victorian decor downstairs, its luxurious lounge upstairs and, not that I want to sound like a cheapskate or anything, the fact that you can get a round of drinks for a tenner without descending to the accursed levels of Wetherspoons. Here, we met Shoinan for more alcohol and inappropriate conversation. At this point, my hangover finally subsided and I could return to damaging my liver in earnest.

After this, Shoinan and I decided to move on into sinful Soho to see where a couple of reprobates like us could get some more booze. We came upon the Nellie Dean, a pub we’d visited once before. This is another old-skool place, unkempt, disreputable-looking, not too crowded and not remotely trendy. Therefore, ideal for us. It’s also open until midnight, which helps. We continued to put the world to rights over a jug of Pimms (executive decision by Shoinan) before heading home.

I feel we all learnt a lot that day. Unfortunately I can’t remember any of it. Hey ho.

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Filed under Booze, Film and TV, Flora and Fauna, Kensington, London, Museums, Plants and animals, Randomness, Soho, tourism, West End

A Moving Story

My God, comrades, the weekend I have had. You see, I’m moving house. I’m just down the road from my current place, though, so in true sitcom fashion basic continuity will be maintained.

For an awfully long time I’ve been unhappy with my current place, pictured left. It was really only supposed to be a temporary measure while I looked for somewhere more permanent and therefore I was prepared to overlook many of my doubts about the place, like the decor, the amount of space and the fact that my new housemates seemed to be kinda twats. Unfortunately, habit took hold. You know how it is – moving is such a hassle, house hunting is such a hassle, so once you’re settled in, as long as you’re not unhappy, might as well stick with it.

At first, this was all fine. I mean, I didn’t think I had very much in common with my new housemates, but that was probably because I didn’t know them. You know how it is – it takes a while to get to know someone, and when you’re living with them, that’s a whole new level of getting to know them. But after a couple of months, I came to realise that actually, no, I had nothing in common with them. These were people who considered me dangerously hedonistic for going out midweek. I don’t mean going out and getting absolutely lashed, I mean just going out and meeting friends. Although to my housemates, there wasn’t really much of a difference. Drinking at all = road to ruin.

Now, I’ve been in good houseshares and bad houseshares, and in a situation like this it’s going to be difficult to avoid it being a bad houseshare. Plan A was to really, really try to get on with them. Find interests to share. If we didn’t have any shared interests, well, find something they were interested in and pretend to like it. The problem with this idea was that they don’t seem to have any interests beyond sitting in front of the TV. There are only so many Family Guy reruns I can take before abandoning the experiment.

Well, when that fails, there’s plan B – involve them in the stuff I’m interested in. My friends are always welcoming to new folk, and I felt sure that a night out or two would turn things around. Unfortunately, I ran into exactly the same problem – my h0usemates are not interested in anything other than sitting in front of the TV. Attempts to get them to come out failed without exception.

And so the only way to avoid falling into the Bad Houseshare trap was Plan C – don’t hang out with them at all. I hate this, because in order to carry it out you have to be that one housemate who nobody ever sees. You know, the one who stays in his room all the time, only comes out a couple of times a day, you never know if he’s out or in? I hate that guy. But that’s what I ended up becoming. A sociable, outgoing guy on one side of the front door, on the other I was the weird and antisocial dude who keeps himself to himself and is probably a serial killer. Not cool, especially the serial killer part.

So when a friend living nearby mentioned that she had a room going spare in her place, which coincidentally happened to be very close to my current place, you can imagine my interest was piqued. Apart from anything else, it sounded like a match made in heaven. The room was going spare in her house and I was going spare in my place.

I had my doubts at first, though. It all seemed a bit sudden. Was I just leaping on this because it was a quick fix? Was it unwise of me to leap on this opportunity, purely for the sake of better housemates, a larger room and cheaper rent? The consensus of literally everybody I asked was “no, accept the offer, you idiot.” Well, they didn’t say “idiot.”

My present, soon-to-be-ex-housemates, had no particular objection beyond quibbling over when they would pay back the deposit. I just decided to say “fuckit” and let them keep it as the last month’s rent. To be honest, there are so many minor repairs that I’ve been meaning to get around to doing that I probably wouldn’t have got a lot of the deposit back anyway. But in turn, those repairs resulted from the fact that the landlord, in common with landlords everywhere, is a stingy bastard. So, basically, long story short, I couldn’t be arsed.

And so I’m moving things over. So close am I to the new place that it is actually easier to move everything by hand than to hire a van or even use a car. So that’s what I’m doing – carrying things over box by box, bag by bag. Nevertheless, one of my soon-to-be-ex housemates had the stones today to tell me that my room was looking very untidy, and that they’d like it if I could tidy it up before they showed it to prospective new housemates. This while I was in the middle of moving things over. What a dick.

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Filed under Current events, Meta, Psychogeography, Randomness

An Idiot’s Guide to Using the Underground

I think, one way or another, I must use the London Underground more-or-less every day. I use it to get to work, to go shopping, to visit friends, to explore the city and blah blah blah you-get-the-idea. If I could get an Oyster card permanently implanted in my hand, I probably would.

So I feel that I’m reasonably qualified to say that there are certain people who just don’t get it. Who have difficulties. Who, to put it bluntly, can make a real hash of a simple thing like getting on a train.

What I initially thought was needed was a sort of ‘Idiot’s Guide to the Underground.’ The problem with “For Dummies”-type books and their many imitators is that they’re inherently self-defeating. If someone is intelligent enough to realise they have a problem, pick the relevant book up and apply its advice then they must, ipso facto, not be an idiot. A real idiot would simply do nothing about it and continue in their brain-wasting ways unto death. Therefore, I’m going to just collect together all the ways people manage to ruin Tube travel for the rest of humanity and suggest that they just continue doing exactly that.

I call it…

You am idiot, want on tube

The London Underground can be very bewildering. It has, oh, lots of stations – more than seven, at least. And the lines are all pretty colours, which can be distracting. Fortunately, help is at hand.

To the platform

I’m afraid you’re going to have to buy a ticket – most if not all stations have automatic barriers, which are a form of robot that can read your ticket (not literally). They do not respond to verbal arguments or physical violence.

Having bought your ticket, approach the barriers carefully. They may appear superficially similar, but this is actually incorrect – some are further to the left than others. To save time, you might want to make your decision as you approach the barrier, wavering from left to right as you approach. If you have large bags with you, there is a gate to allow you through more easily, but this is by no means compulsory.

Now you will come to the escalator. This is a device that can save a lot of time. Therefore, you can afford to approach it slowly, particularly as you come close to its beginning – perhaps you would like to practise wavering from side-to-side a little more?

It is commonly suggested that you stand on the right. However, the left is far less congested, and therefore is an ideal place for you, your friend or your luggage to rest. If you are with a friend, you may wish to turn around and attempt to walk up the down escalator. This is highly risible to all concerned. If you do have luggage, remember that to get the maximum benefit from the convenience of the escalator, you should not attempt to pick it up until you are approximately three inches from the lower end. You should then pause immediately after stepping off in order to take stock.

On the platform

You have come on to the Underground because you do not wish to walk – that goes without saying. Therefore, to get on to the platform and then start walking along it is counter-productive. Far more sensible is to stand immediately in front of the entrance. The more of you there are, the more energy is saved overall. You’re practically an environmentalist!

When trying to determine where your train is going, there are electronic indicators on the platform and announcements over the PA system, and each train carries an indicator of its destination on the front. However, you should not eliminate the possibility that this is all an elaborate conspiracy against you personally, and therefore should check with as many passengers as possible that the next train is, in fact, going where you want it to go. They may be privy to secret knowledge that they would like to share with a lost soul like yourself.

Getting on the train

Having firmly established that TfL is not conspiring to send you unwittingly to Mill Hill East for some nefarious purpose, when the train arrives, you can get on board. Remember, though, that the train does not stay in any station for a very long time. To ensure that you can actually get on, you should stand as close as possible to the doors when they open, and immediately force your way in. Other people may try to get off the train first, making said forcefulness difficult, but they must be forgiven – they do not comprehend the importance of your journey.

If, by some chance, you have arrived just as your train is about to leave, you should attempt to force the door open. They can’t leave while you’re holding it open, and their attempts to prevent your party of five people from waiting two whole minutes until the next train are frankly inconsiderate.

On the train

Take a seat, although if you are feeling sociable, you may wish to get up, run up and down the carriage or swing from the bars. If, as mentioned before, you have large bags with you, the seat next to you makes a convenient receptacle, particularly in rush hour when putting it on the floor will get it jostled.

On the other hand, you may prefer to stand, particularly on short journeys. The best way to demonstrate this intention is to stand next to an empty seat in such a way that nobody else can get to it. However, it is worth noting that if your journey is that short, you should stand as near to the doors as you can and stay there. Sure, there may be more room further down the carriage, but logic dictates that if space is at a premium, you should be where you can get off and thus create space as quickly as you can.

If you think you’re likely to get hungry, you may wish to bring a delicious kebab or box of fried chicken to consume along the way. Note that there are no bins on the train, but TfL does employ a lot of cleaners and so you can safely leave the packaging behind.

Leaving the train

Having ascertained that you are at your destination, step off the train and wander aimlessly around the platform to get your bearings. When there are so many people about, it can be difficult to develop a full spatial awareness. Other commuters may bump into you, perhaps even swear at you, but who’s going to be laughing when, through a lack of spatial awareness, they wander on to the track? Not them. Because they’d be dead.

Uh-oh! Another escalator! Fortunately, the same etiquette applies for the “up” escalator as for the “down” escalator.

When you reach the barrier, either put your Oyster card on the reader or insert your ticket into the “in” slot on the machine. This is normally located on the front of the barrier, but you may wish to try inserting the ticket into the top slot just in case.

If your ticket or Oyster card will not let you out, correct procedure is to keep trying up to twenty times. If the barrier still won’t open, take a couple of smart side-steps in front of the line of people next to you and try the next one, then the next, and so on until you reach one that opens.

You may consider trying one of the barriers that has a red cross on its display. This represents the cross of St Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, who is said to guard the entrance to Heaven. Therefore, it may be possible that this is a Da Vinci Code-style test of wit, and the crossed barriers actually represent a way to the “world above.”

You’re out

Congratulations! Try not to get run over as you cross the road.

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Filed under London, London Underground, Randomness, tourism, Transport

I am hardcore

It’s been a funny sort of week, comrades. My grandpa’s funeral was on Tuesday, Hurricane Jack returned to the country on Friday, work has been stressy as the Dickens and in between a lot of strange things have been happening. The plan this weekend was therefore to relax as much as possible, which hasn’t quite happened.

Friday, as I say, was marked by the return of Hurricane Jack, who has been mentioned in passing in these pages before. This was celebrated in the traditional manner, i.e. helping to take care of the nation’s alcohol surplus. During the course of this evening, I was introduced to a place in Twickenham known as the Koyote bar. I suspect I was not really the target audience for the place, which is rather noisy and features scantily-clad young ladies dancing on the bar. On the plus side, it’s open late, entry is free and alcohol is at pub prices – I think most of the people in there who weren’t actively on stag nights were taking advantage of these facts, though there were one or two who seemed to be entirely there for the femininity on display. Why they’d go there when there’s a strip club down the road I don’t know.

The night ended with a trip back to Hurricane Jack’s place in Teddington, where we talked a lot of crap, ate some food and watched Thunderbirds at four in the morning. We speculated that Gordon Tracy has so little to do that he actually purposely loses his family’s possessions so that he can “rescue” them later in front of everybody. Sad really.

I eventually got to bed at six, which I believe officially means that I was up all night (Yeah! Still got it!), and strolled into Kingston via Hampton Wick, pausing only to stick my head into the vintage shop that’s opened there. No menswear, though, so continued into Kingston. I bought a really rather delicious brownie in the market, which I will pretend I did because I needed to get rid of the hangover and because I was supporting independent traders or something, but in reality it’s because I just like eating brownies. Brownie as in interestingly-textured chocolate cake, not as in young girl scout. I mean, obviously, right?

I came across a Louis Wain print in the antique market, which I would dearly love to own but can in no way justify spending money on. If any of you have enjoyed this blog so much that you’d like to give me £90 for no reason, drop me a line.

The evening was set aside for a Boys’ Night In at Shoinan’s place out in West London. Shoinan himself describes the area as being undistinguished, but I think it has a certain J. G. Ballardesque charm, but then, as I’ve described in previous entries, my taste in urban landscapes may not be entirely normal.

As well as shooting the shit, drinking a lot of beer and getting through enough Mini Cheddars to kill lesser men, we watched a few of those movies that between us, we missed out on.

Brief review:

Forgetting Sarah Marshall = Good

Scott Pilgrim vs The World = Alright, but definitely a case of style over substance.

Black Dynamite = If you have not seen this film, I order you to go away right now and watch it.

Once again, I totally failed to get to bed at a sensible time, this time finally crashing into bed at some time after seven. I am officially hardcore. What this did mean was that my original plans for today had to be curtailed somewhat – I did have to nip into town. On the way I fed my burgeoning addiction to frozen yogurt at Yog, a small chain of whimsical frozen yogurt shops that should in no way be confused with Snog, which is a small chain of whimsical frozen yogurt shops.

The Byocup

While in Fitzrovia, I saw a product known as the Byocup on sale in one of the shops. This is essentially a response to the problem of wastage that comes about as a result of the huge number of disposable coffee cups that get thrown away every day. The idea behind the Byocup is that it’s like a disposable coffee cup, except that it’s reusable. It’s made of silicon, and so won’t burn your hands when filled with hot coffee. Whereas you would throw a disposable coffee cup away, with the Byocup you simply wash it and reuse it.

Actually, I had a similar idea myself about a year ago. Although I thought that, given that the cup was supposed to be a lifetime’s possession, I could go to town a bit more on features – not slavishly adhere to the design of the disposable cup. My version was ceramic, and had the added design features of a sturdy base and a handle. A photo of the prototype may be seen on the right.

After sticking my head into Cass Art in Berwick Street, I encountered a drug dealer who tried to sell me some hash. I didn’t actually realise he was talking to me – he just sort of ambled around in a circle that happened to intersect with my path while mumbling about “hash” and “weed.” When I didn’t react, he became upset and accused me of being rude and snobbish. This means that I achieved the unusual accolade of being one of the few people against whom a drug dealer felt able to take the moral high ground. I am a “bad ass.”

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Filed under Booze, Current events, Fitzrovia, Food, Literature, London, Psychogeography, Rambling on and on, Randomness, Soho, Suburbia, Weird shops, West End

‘Til you drop

I’ve had an utterly boring weekend where I saw no one, went nowhere (nowhere special, anyway) and did nothing (useful). Yesterday consisted of a trip to Kingston and today of a trip to Camden followed by a long and pointless walk from Angel to Kennington via a circuitous route. I’d love to say that I reached some sort of exciting conclusion or saw something really interesting, but no.

Compounding matters somewhat is a delay in payment of my wages, which means I’m subsisting at poor person level (or at least, the middle-class London version of “poor”) until Wednesday. Not necessarily a problem, except my birthday falls on Tuesday and I’d quite like to enjoy myself a bit. Having said that, for possibly the first time I’m utterly indifferent to the day, possibly because it’s one of those non-milestone years that serves only to remind me that I’m edging ever-closer to 30 and am notably not a multi-millionnaire yet.

So you’ll have to forgive me for the fact that this entry may come across as slightly bad-tempered. There’s just something about wandering around shopping centres filled with people who are younger or richer or both-er than you that depresses. I hope I’m not turning into one of those Grumpy Old Men, because 28 is far too young for that sort of thing. Not to mention the fact that I hate this industry that’s been built around whining about everything. Don’t get me wrong, I like satire – I love satire. But honestly, if I see one more comedy programme about a writer who’s depressed because his housekeeper isn’t up to scratch and the BBC feel his latest script needs work, I’m going to kidnap the author and drop them in Afghanistan just to give them some fucking perspective.

Wait, that entire rant makes me a hypocrite. Damn.

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Filed under Camden, Current events, Not even trying to be on-topic, Only loosely about London, Rambling on and on, Randomness

Big in Japan, for some reason

The world is a huge and baffling place of many different cultures, and this is a thing we ignore at our peril. What seems self-evident to us may seem strange or even crazy to another culture. For instance, most people in Britain would find the idea of eating dog disgusting, but in many parts of Asia it’s perfectly normal. And meanwhile, there are many places where the fact that the people of Britain eat meat at all is repugnant. To give another example, a lawyer chum of mine had to deal with a divorce case recently in which the husband, a rural Nigerian fellow, was using as a central part of his argument the fact that his wife was secretly a mermaid. Superstition and nonsense? Well, many would say the same about the concept of God.

So when I read yet another comedy article online about how the Japanese are crazy, I tend to roll my eyes a little. I’m not some weeaboo, let me get that straight, I’m not even an anime fan (though there are anime films I enjoy – Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most moving anti-war films ever made). But honestly, most of these “crazy Japanese” articles are either about robots, gadgets or tentacle porn, and often all three. It’s an easy laugh based on cultural differences.

One of the things that I find interesting is the way certain things take off in a foreign country in a way that baffles people in its homeland. For instance, Disney comics. Those are huge in Europe. I mean, even fairly obscure Disney characters have their own comics in places like Denmark and Italy. There are comics in which Goofy is a superhero. There is a comic in which Donald Duck is a gentleman thief. Now, while Disney comics are not unknown in the USA, they have a very small cult following. The closest they’ve come to the mainstream was the Saturday morning cartoon Ducktales, based on Carl Barks’ comics.

A similar phenomenon in Japan is the Kit Kat bar. Now, Kit Kats in Britain are just one of those things. A pleasant chocolate treat to have with your mid-morning cup of tea. In fact, it was originally devised in the 1930s as a portable snack for work. It’s in line with the traditional British attitude towards luxury, i.e. that a bit of luxury is fine, but let’s not go nuts.

Not so in Japan. In Japan, Kit Kats are big business. It’s all down to a linguistic coincidence. “Kit Kat” is a meaningless term in Britain whose sole virtue was that it was catchier than “Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp,” the name used up until 1937. However, in Japan, Kit Kat sounds like a shortened version of “kitto katsu,” which roughly translated means “you will definitely succeed.” Well, who could resist such a positive and friendly chocolate bar? Take note, Mars, you’re on a hiding to nothing with your warlike nomenclature.

Anyway, this means that Kit Kats have become associated with good fortune, and so became hugely popular as good luck charms, particularly around exam time (and even if you do badly in the exam, there’s chocolate afterwards to make you feel better). Now, whereas in Britain we’re satisfied with chocolate and wafer, maybe hazarding dark chocolate, maybe a little caramel if we’re feeling especially naughty, in Japan they’re rather more adventurous with their confectionary. Which is how I came across this while I was in the Cybercandy shop in Covent Garden:

And this is why I'm an atheist.

That is not photoshopped, it is exactly what it appears to be. Cheese flavoured Kit Kat. There have been many, many different flavours of Kit Kat in Japan, ranging from fairly obvious ones like hazelnut and strawberry, through “not obvious but actually quite nice-sounding” like custard pudding and jasmine tea, to “serious cultural differences here,” which is where our friend cheese comes in. As do wasabi, lemon vinegar, wine, baked potato and the top seller in Japan, soy sauce.

Anyway, out of curiosity, I did actually buy this. I have to say, even given that it’s imported, it seemed a bit pricey – £3.80 for what turned out to be ten mini-fingers of Kit Kat, i.e. slightly less in total than an actual full-size Kit Kat. The box they come in is pretty big, which seems like a bit of a swizz to me.

Now, the actual sweet itself. It’s white chocolate-coated. It looks quite benign, actually. Then you take a bite, and… well, it’s unexpected, put it that way. My mouth actually sort of rebelled, unable to quite interpret what it was eating. There was a cheesy flavour, and there was a chocolate flavour, but somehow not both at the same time. The actually cheesy flavour was, I have to say, more Cheez-Whiz than fine Stilton, which didn’t help matters.

Apparently a lot of these flavours are limited editions, created for collectibility first and foremost. That would certainly explain a lot. I mean, I wouldn’t say this was an appalling flavour, but I wouldn’t buy it again. And bear in mind I’m someone who actually really likes salty liquorice. All in all, I’d say it’s something to buy more for the “get a load of this” value than because it’s a taste sensation.

Or maybe I’m just being culturally insensitive.

Further Reading

http://www.cybercandy.co.uk/aaasmt/ – Get your own here. Or don’t.

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Filed under Covent Garden, Disasters, Food, History, Only loosely about London, Randomness, Shopping, Weird shops, West End

Peninsula Envy

I had Tuesday off, and like most people, I decided to take advantage of this time by exploring desolate post-industrial wasteland. I invested in a shipping venture last year from Anatoly “Nickname” Chugarov (I think I mentioned that in the previous entry). Anyway, the whole thing seemed a bit dodgy to me, so I decided to pull out and asked Anatoly to give me my 5% of the venture now. I’ll admit I’m not too hot on this investment lark. Anatoly said he’d meet me on the Greenwich Peninsula with my share, so I thought I’d take advantage of this to kill two birds with one stone.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always been fascinated by industrial urban desolation. This might explain why I find Amy Winehouse strangely attractive. The Greenwich Peninsula has long been known for these qualities, as I discovered myself when I ended up here by accident some years ago (put it this way – the Dome hadn’t yet opened). I was curious to see how it had changed in the intervening time.

As you can see in the photo above, it’s what we psychogeographer-types call “hostile.” Once you step out of North Greenwich Tube Station, you’ve basically got lots of roads, fences and barriers on all sides – not exactly hospitable to pedestrians. Once you finally get down to the river, you can see that this far east, London is still a working port.

On the right you can see Trinity Buoy Wharf, one of the oddities of London. Circled in purple are a couple of lightships, what they’re doing there I have no idea. Circled in green is the Bow Creek Lighthouse, the only inland lighthouse in the United Kingdom. I really wish I could have got a bit closer. Some other time, maybe.

On the left you can see a contrast between old and new Docklands. In the background, the Canary Wharf development is very visible. In the foreground, an old pier used for loading barges. This has been turned into a sort of wildlife preserve , part of a general policy to bring the area back to nature. After a century and a half of pollution, this is a motion I applaud. An interesting scheme in place elsewhere on the peninsula is to resist erosion by binding the mud with naturally-occurring plant life rather than artificial walls.

There was something unutterably surreal about the view on the right, almost post-apocalyptic. Although many industries have occupied the Peninsula, and several still do, the big one was gasworks – more gas was produced here in the mid-twentieth century than anywhere else in the world (insert fart joke if required). When North Sea gas was discovered, the gasworks were rendered obsolete. Though there are a few remnants here and there, most of the ground has been built over or – as here – cleared in anticipation of new development. This is another of those transitional things that I think is quite important to capture.

Now, this is taking psychogeographical hostility to the limit. You see that flooded road between the heaps of sand there? Yeah, that’s the footpath. I’m not joking. It was at this point that I began to get heartily sick of post-industrial wasteland. No, wait, I tell a lie…

this was when I got heartily sick of post-industrial wasteland. Readers may note the highly unsuitable choice of trousers. Consider also that this was actually quite early on in the scramble through floodwater/over sandbanks. By the end I was considering suicide, or at least buying a decent pair of boots.

On the right is an aggregate… tower… loading… thing. I don’t know what it is, if I’m honest. It has a conveyor belt. By this stage I was starting to go a little bit mad, I think. God only knows why I took a picture here.

In fact, I think I’m going to skip the next few photos. They mostly consist of mud and concrete. I found some rails where a crane once went, that was about it.

However, I did eventually find something more interesting, for a given value of “interesting.”

And here it is. These strange steel structures are on Enderby’s Wharf, once the location of a submarine cable works. Which made cables, you see, for going underwater. It’s quite interesting. I think, anyway.

The wharf is preserved now, but was locked up when I was passing. The actual works buildings are boarded up, which is lame.

Here is a breaker’s yard for boats. Again, not sure exactly what my thinking was in taking a photo here. This is actually one of the nicer photos.

I think I might have photographed this because it was a landmark I remembered from the previous visit. I also recall a chemical plant, which seemed to have closed down since then. I remember passing under some sort of loading-pipe-rig-type thing that was no longer there.

This is another of those “observe the contrast between the old Docklands and the new” photos. On one side of the road, grotty industry. On the other, shiny new flats. It makes you think. Specifically, it makes you think, “Christ, imagine having to look at that grotty industry every morning.”

Ah, now, this is interesting. This is Greenwich Power Station, built to supply electricity to the London Underground and London County Council Tramways from 1910. Despite its antiquated nature, it is still used as a backup supply. Architecturally, I think the main body of the plant is actually quite pleasant. Certainly compared to some of the eyesores I saw earlier (“eyesores I saw”… dear me).

And here we are at historic Maritime Greenwich. Incidentally, if you wondered how I came to be on the Greenwich Peninsula back in 1999, the simple answer was that I wanted to get here, and figured that North Greenwich wouldn’t be too far away. As the crow flies, it’s not. But when it’s cold and bleak and the path is muddy and the route winds around many huge obstacles, well, let’s just say it wasn’t worth avoiding the change of trains. And here endeth the lesson.

Oh, wait, the investment thing. Well, Anatoly was as good as his word, and did indeed give me my 5% share.

Son of a bitch.

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