Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another quick gig-related message: I will be playing live with Divisionists tomorrow, once again at the 12 Bar Club. On some time after 9pm. Facebook page here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Visiting Aldwych tube station on The Strand (from which it originally took its name from) is a truly odd experience. A disused Underground station, it’s occasionally open as a sort of tourist attraction at around £20 - not cheap, but you do get free entrance to the London Transport Museum as part of the bargain. Going deep into its bowels feels like entering a surreal Dr Who-style timewarp, where all the stylish art deco adverts on the wall (which you can view here if you scroll down a bit, not to mention this interesting one on the benefits of joining the proto-EU EEC) are from the 1940s to the 60s - despite the fact that the line, confusingly, still ran as late at 1993, albeit at an extremely restricted service. Some of them are a hell of a lot more classy than the ads you see now advertising cheap flights to the Costa Brava or wherever.
Aldwych tube always was something of an anomaly, somewhat similar to the still functioning Mornington Crescent, or Kensington Olympia in West London, which seem entirely designed to confuse the hell out of tourists (mind you, the Byzantine nature of the Northern Line as a whole seems solely designed to piss of tourists). It was the only stop and terminus in a short line that branched off from the main part of the Piccadilly line from nearby Holborn station; the line and tunnel at the Holborn end that used to connect the trains to Aldywch are likewise closed (they were used in the video to Suede's 1997 single 'Saturday Night'), though the rest of Holborn station is fully operational.
Viewing its ghostly tunnels, it's incredible to think of how many bodies must have been packed down here during WWII, when it was used as an air-raid shelter (as with many other Underground stations in London). You also can't help help but think that it'd make a great film set, to which Wikipedia gives as reply a list of London-set films which have done just that: from the super-violent The Krays to big-budget titles such as V for Vendetta and 28 Days Later (as a digression, I also keep meaning to see the very 80s-looking Paris metro-set Subway), as well as some horror film called Creep that I've never heard of. But most of all, it's just odd to walk on the platforms and see the tunnels closed on either ends.
NB In my hungover stupidity I forgot to bring my camera, so the following pictures were took by my friend Valerie Gonet, for which I owe many thanks.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

As a user myself, I’ve been interested to see the unveiled new extension to the area in which 'Boris bikes' will be running. Perhaps unsurprisingly, with the Olympics coming up, it appears to favour the Docklands and those areas adjacent to the site, with a few extra stations added in ‘North Shoreditch’ (i.e. about as far as the Geffrye Museum). Understandable, of course, with such an enormously significant event coming up, but I still can’t see why the catchment area for the bikes at the moment has to be so saturated while many others areas and boroughs, all of which are broadly ‘inner London’, have been crying out for the scheme and yet have not been serviced by a single docking station. With the current extension I can’t help but feel that while Boris ostensibly is addressing the tournament this summer, in reality the extension is equally there to serve the suits in Canary Wharf.
If he’s serious about the scheme being a meritocratic service for the general public, and not just for a coterie of bankers, there needs to be docking stations in most of Hackney (including Dalston), lots of Islington which currently isn’t serviced (Holloway Road for one), all of Haringey – which, remember, stretches from Muswell Hill to South Tottenham – and preferably some of Waltham Forest. These are vast areas, with an enormous population combined. South of the river, too, areas such as Brixton, Clapham and New Cross haven’t had a look in.
Instead of building dense collections of docking stations streets away from each other in the catchment areas, it strikes me as far better to build outwards with less density of the stations. That way, a larger area is included within the cycle scheme, if one where the stations are dispersed much more sparsely. Stoke Newington, for example, might only get a handful, but it’ll still be better than nothing. Otherwise, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Boris is only aiming for where the bankers live.