diamond geezer

 Monday, July 01, 2019

30 unblogged things I did in June

Sat 1: I thought I'd follow the London Festival of Architecture's Alsop Whistle-stop Tour, starting at the amazing Neuron Pod Building in Whitechapel, but the self-guided tour hadn't been uploaded to the website in time (and when it eventually was it turned out to be nothing more than a 12 mile line on a map and a suggestion to cycle it, drawn by someone who clearly never had), so I went to the Royal Docks instead.
Sun 2: You might enjoy the latest exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery, by Bus Stop M, which focuses on the industrial heritage of plastics in the Lower Lea Valley. Ideal if you like old utensils and Xylonite rather than inexplicable art. It's not big, but it is clever. Runs until the end of August.
Mon 3: Meridian Water station opened today, three days after Angel Road closed. Chris Grayling came to open it, but by the time I arrived in the afternoon the 'plaque' he'd unveiled had already been taken down. Most of the expense of the new station appears to be lift-related. Don't rush.



Tue 4: I greatly enjoyed watching 63 Up, just like I've enjoyed 56, 49, 42, 35 etc, partly as a chronicle of our changing society but also as a heads up of what my life might be like in one series' time.
Wed 5: My 10 year-old driving licence is about to expire, which I feared might mean getting a new photo taken. But the new online renewal system is clever and joined-up, so allowed me to reuse the photo from my passport, which means I'll still look like I'm 49 when I'm 64. And I'll have an 'EU' driving licence, no matter what.
Thu 6: A couple of years ago I had 20 minutes in Derby, and wasn't overly impressed. Today I gave myself 90, and discovered I'd seen pretty much everything first time round.
Fri 7: The branch of Barclays Bank beside Bow Church station closed its doors today and its two cashpoints were taken out of service. There are now no banks on Bow Road, probably for the first time since the 19th century (although there is a Post Office, so expect that to get busier). The last bank in Bow is the Barclays on Roman Road.
Sat 8: My journey around London today was interrupted by the Red Arrows and, unintentionally, by hundreds of naked cyclists pouring off the South Bank. Here's a photo of one of these events.



Sun 9: Golly, they got on with demolishing Old Oak Common Depot quickly.
Mon 10: You're supposed to cut your old driving licence in half, even before the new one arrives, and send it to a non-Freepost address in Swansea. My new driving licence has already arrived, but I have not yet wasted a stamp on returning my old one. I may never.
Tue 11: It rained so much yesterday that today in Morden Hall Park I came across a mobility scooter stranded between two flooded sections of footpath. Its occupant looked racked with regret. The Rose Garden was merely squelchy underfoot.
Wed 12: While I was trying pick out some books in the library, two teenage girls huddled behind the history shelves and spent ten minutes excitedly squealing about whether to send a photo or not. "I'm sending it, I'm sending it, OMG I'm sending it... no I can't do it, but I'm definitely sending it". My childhood sounded simple in comparison.
Thu 13: Atop the Malvern Hills I stumbled upon a snogging couple on a bench with a fantastic view, which they weren't looking at, a short walk from the car park. He was older in a jacket and tie, she was doused in a cloud of perfume the breeze had failed to shift. They stopped snogging for the half-minute it took me to walk past, as if well-practised in badly-concealed deceit, then returned to their affair.



Fri 14: The deli counter in my local Tesco has been closed down, as part of something called 'Project Abacus', and replaced by a shelf of garden equipment including gnomes and fertiliser. Nobody queues for hot chicken wings at lunchtime any more. The halal meat counter remains open.
Sat 15: Due to extensive engineering works the District line has been rejigged for one weekend only to run between Upminster and Hammersmith via King's Cross. I rode the whole length, which took 80 minutes, except that at Aldgate East they redesignated it a Hammersmith & City line train so maybe I didn't.
Sun 16: Last year, you may remember, I rode every London bus route for at least one stop, and then the same for all the nightbuses. Since then eight new nightbus routes have been introduced, generally due to daytime services being shortened, and this morning I went out and maintained my record. Fulham Palace Road is very quiet in the early hours. Westminster Bridge and New Oxford Street, less so.
Mon 17: This is the only time of year when I can almost see the sunset out of my back window, and tonight's looked like it might have been spectacular if only it wasn't mostly hidden by everything.



Tue 18: The street signs in the Hackney corner of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have had their Newham coats of arms covered over with sticky tape. Some attempts at sticking have been quite poor.
Wed 19: If you'd like to follow something on Twitter that's fun, stimulating and potentially addictive, try @EmojiTetra - a bot which plays Tetris. It works via the medium of Twitter polls with a crowdsourced move every 20 minutes. The global collective is remarkably good at playing strategically without going for brash, stupid moves, confirming the wisdom of crowds, but doesn't always do what you expect. At time of writing, it's halfway to a highscore.
Thu 20: So, our next Prime Minister is either going to be an egotistical mendacious buffoon or... no, it's definitely going to be the egotistical mendacious buffoon. But not for another month, so let's make the most of our current insipid reality.
Fri 21: The new raised walkway on the Greenwich Peninsula (between the central square and the river) is swarming with helmeted operatives making preparations for a grand opening next month. Steel yourself for a marketing blitz trying to convince you it's London's answer to New York's High Line, when really it's a placemaker's attempt to make some heritage-free real estate interesting. Looks fun, though.



Sat 22: I went for a ten mile walk in Surrey and the dogs I passed were really well behaved and that boosted my self-confidence no end.
Sun 23: I went for a three mile walk in Hillingdon and the dogs I passed were anything but well behaved, so it turned into a six mile walk to avoid them, and that knocked my self-confidence right back down again.
Mon 24: I haven't done a great job of looking after my grandmother's bowl of small cacti for the last 25 years, but the largest of them's still alive, if a little shrivelled in places. Reading the label again, it turns out I've been doing a great job of not watering them between September and May, and a less great job between June and August.
Tue 25: When developers finally get round to building the suburb of Pudding Mill, I wonder where West Ham are going to store all their lower stadium seating over the summer.
Wed 26: Swanley must have the most depressing town centre within a few miles of London. A fortress Asda, a windswept square, teenage hordes doing wheelies, benches surrounded by uncollected rubbish, a boarded-up Post Office nobody else wants to use, and get me out of here.



Thu 27: BestMate and I went for our annual midsummer evening safari to watch the planes at City Airport, and sat on top of the Royal Victoria Dock Bridge with a picnic while a stream of CitiFlyers roared directly overhead.
Fri 28: Dozens of tiny CCTV cameras have appeared along Bow Road on battery-powered poles, especially at junctions with sidestreets, presumably doing some kind of traffic survey. I wonder if they're tracking numberplates, even anonymously, because that's the power of modern data collection for you.
Sat 29: When in Kew, be sure to drop by the National Archives to see their current exhibition of Cold War documentation. A scribbled notebook page on which Churchill confirmed the Eastern bloc's postwar split. A typewritten speech the Queen never gave. A government nuclear escalation exercise that notionally peaked on my 18th birthday. A fallout room under a flight of stairs stocked with 80s cans and bottles. Illuminating rather than uplifting.
Sun 30: In the clearance sale at WH Smith in Brent Cross I found a pack of London 2012 playing cards reduced to 99p. That's amazing, given that the Olympic Games were seven years ago, and I wondered if this might be some kind of record, or just appalling stocktaking, or possibly both.


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