diamond geezer

 Monday, May 31, 2004

Silver Jubilee month terminates here.

All change please.
All change.

The whole line on one page here.
More photos on photo blog here

Please take all your belongings with you.

Thank you for travelling on the Jubilee line.

Silver Jubilee: Stratford
Opened: Thursday 20th June 1839
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.5 km
Change here for: Central line, Docklands Light Railway, North London line and One (somebody please sack the incompetent PR gibbon who thought that name up)
Change here soon for: Eurostar services to St Pancras and Paris, via the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
Fact file: Stratford station used to be a bit of a dump. But it was completely rebuilt between 1996 and 1999 and is now a bit of a stunner, although it's still a heck of a long walk out of the station from the Jubilee line platforms. Coming soon, just to the north, Stratford International.
5 things I found outside this station: Meridian Square, a big bus station, a purple steam engine called Robert, scores of people, my local shopping centre.
Nearby: Stratford Market train depot (formerly a fruit & veg market), the Cultural Quarter (Theatre Royal + Stratford Picturehouse + Stratford Circus).
Nearby (maybe): Olympic Park 2012
Local history: no, no, no - this place has a local future.

 Sunday, May 30, 2004

Would Jubileevit quiz: Here are clues to the names of 21 Jubilee line stations. How many can you identify? (Answers in the comments box)

  1) chalet         12) how Hilda Ogden asked husband for seconds
  2) Route 007         13) environmentally-friendly recreation area
  3) artillery fire         14) uses leg joint to injure Leslie Grantham
  4) occident pig               15) where the Heinz Beans factory is
  5) royal funeral                16) Tower or Millennium, for example
  6) royal funeral                 17) main entrance to York cathedral
  7) Lake Superior                     18) Barbie and Sindy go climbing
  8) murder, arson                         19) Warwickshire theatreland
  9) Belgian battlefield                     20) stick a road in the oven
10) Hammers' cuddly bear                21) Arctic gullible sorceress
11) mooring for yellow birds

Silver Jubilee: West Ham
Opened: Monday 16th October 1854
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.6 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: District, Hammersmith & City, c2c and North London lines
Fact file: West Ham station is 1½ miles from West Ham football ground, which must fool a lot of away supporters. You want Upton Park instead, you do. (bad luck lads)
5 things I found outside this station: Ibstock bricks and small glass squares, Costcutter Express, a mini-roundabout, Memorial Avenue, a chippy under new management (shame, because the old management served right tasty cod)
Nearby (eastward): the East London Rugby Club, a few houses.
Nearby (westward): no houses, Bow Back Rivers, light industrial sprawl, Olympic Park 2012, the site of the old Big Brother House (go look at my exclusive photos again).
Local history: In the 1850s West Ham was the eighth largest town in the country. Keir Hardie became the first ever Labour MP when he was elected to represent West Ham in 1892. A local timeline here.

 Saturday, May 29, 2004

Meet the Big Brother 5 twelve (let the freakshow begin)

Marco (law student, 21, self-confessed drama queen) keywords: camp, squeaky, vodka, over-excited. Most likely to say "Oh my god, oh my god!" (last 3)
Ahmed (voluntary lawyer, 44, self-confessed homophobe) keywords: multi-lingual, arrogant, bolshy, asylum-seeker. Most likely to say "I want people to hate me" (evicted: week 1)
Jason (air steward, 30, self-confessed shagger) keywords: muscles, meathead, cocksure, vain. Most likely to say "do you like my leopardskin thong?" (evicted: week 3)
Daniel (hairdresser, 30, self-confessed babe/bloke-magnet) keywords: tall, secretive, fedora, metrosexual. Most likely to say "I am an enigma" (evicted: week 7)
Stuart (psychology student, 20, self-confessed genius) overconfident, immodest, bandana, smug. Most likely to say "I got 4 As at A level I did" (evicted: week 6)
Victor (gap year student, 23, self confessed alpha male) keywords: dominant, outspoken, well-endowed, arrogant. Most likely to say "I fear no man" (evicted: week 9)

Vanessa (blonde, 26, self-confessed centre of jealousy) keywords: sporty, sleeptalker, strong-willed, South African archery champion. Most likely to say "I won't be walked over" (evicted: week 8)
Emma (legal administrator, 20, self-confessed dippy lass) keywords: common as muck, partygirl, talkative, naive. Most likely to say (whilst standing in the lounge) "Wow is this the house?" (last 3)
Kitten (activist, 24, self-confessed radical feminist lesbian) keywords: strident, political, argumentative, principled. Most likely to say nothing, but hold up two fingers instead (evicted: week 4)
Michelle (mortgage advisor, 23, self-confessed sex addict) keywords: wannabe, mucky, vegetarian, slag. Most likely to say "Have I appeared on the front of the Sun yet?" (evicted: week 2)
Shell (art student, 22, self confessed shepherdess) keywords: nice, cultured, outdoors, innocent. Most likely to say "Have any of you read Dostoevsky?" (potential winner)
Nadia (bank clerk 27, self-confessed virgin) keywords: double-breasted, feisty, plastic, gravelly. Most likely to say (eventually) "18 months ago I used to be a bloke" (evicted: week 5)

Silver Jubilee: Canning Town
Opened: Monday 14th June 1847
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.7 km (beneath the River Thames yet again)
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Newham
Change here for: Docklands Light Railway and North London line
Fact file: This is a double decker station, with the DLR platforms directly above the Jubilee line platforms. The eastbound DLR runs directly above the westbound Jubilee, but in the same actual direction.
5 things I found outside this station: a big flyover on the A13, an MFI superstore, a teeming bus station, Purvi newsagents, a large stone memorial commemorating the nearby Thames Ironworks (HMS Warrior was built here in 1860)
Nearby: Bow Creek, Leamouth, Trinity Buoy Wharf (London's only lighthouse)
Local history: Ronan Point was once a typical new 1960s tower block, at least until Mrs Ivy Hodge woke early one morning in 1968 to make herself a cup of tea. She struck a match to light the gas on the cooker in her kitchen, and the resulting explosion caused all 23 floors in one corner of the block to collapse. Amazingly only five people died (not including Ivy) but Britain's high-rise tower block dream died with them.
Local blog: Random Acts of Reality

 Friday, May 28, 2004

North Greenwich: what a waste-land

Watch the opening seconds of EastEnders very very closely and you'll see that the camera pans out from an epicentre in the middle of the River Thames, just off the North Greenwich peninsula. When the programme started in 1985 the opening credits depicted a densely-packed industrial wasteland here, with a dark grey cloud positioned carefully over the tip of the peninsula. In 1999 the credits were updated to show a very different picture, with much of the surrounding industry erased and a vast new Dome shining out from the centre of that camera shot. For one millennial year the people came, in their not-quite-enough millions, and the peninsula buzzed with life. Well, some life. And then the nation went away disillusioned and left North Greenwich alone, a major transport hub surrounded by nobody. The station was designed to cope with up to twenty-two thousand passengers an hour but now serves less than half that a day. A great future is promised, but it hasn't arrived yet.

Walk out of North Greenwich station today and what will you see? There's the big Dome standing folorn and empty, its twelve yellow spikes thrusting defiantly into the sky. Through the long blue perimeter fence you might spot Group 4 security workers patrolling the vast arena like ghosts. It's still possible to walk right up to the rows of over-optimistic admission booths, all 48 of them, lined up waiting for the crowds that never came. A trickling stream of lost buses passes through the curved bus station, detouring to ferry the grateful of south-east London back to their distant homes. To the south of the Dome lies a vast open space where, one day, something more than car parks and fountains will be built. And further away still is the Millennium Village - yuppie heaven so they'd have you believe, but still absolutely nowhere near critical mass. The whole redevelopment is as bleak and deserted as the industrial landscape it replaced.

Should you have half an hour to spare you can take a lovely lonely walk around the Dome. Turn right out of the station, skulk past a wall of blue portakabins and breathe in the stunning view of Canary Wharf from across the river. Further round you cross the meridian line, etched in stone, beside a disused pavilion still home to the model remains of a multimedia exhibition. A carpet of replanted wild flowers lies cut off inside the Dome perimeter, whilst nearby riverside reedbeds sway freely in the breeze. Tiny planes fly low overhead on their way to land at tiny City Airport, and an enormous yellow sign warns shipping that the Thames Barrier lies just round the corner. You pass a legacy of underappreciated artwork spaced along the riverbank, from a vertically-sliced boat (now covered in seagulls) to Anthony Gormley's towering Quantum Cloud. Nobody lands at the Queen Elizabeth Pier any more, if indeed they ever did, and gardeners have long abandoned the shrubberies alongside the deserted car parks. The odd cyclist may speed past on some long ride to nowhere, but otherwise this walk is a solitary pilgrimage to misplaced ambition. I loved it.

Looking back from the smug safety of the future it's clear that the Dome should never have been built. The British public were never going to be enthralled by a worthy exhibition of social issues, hurriedly assembled to meet an immovable deadline. But I'm glad we tried. We may have wasted millions on the millennium, but one day this area will be reborn and it'll all be because one year ended in three zeroes. Until then the Dome will continue to stand alone and abandoned in the middle of nothing. Nothing but the EastEnders map, that is.

Silver Jubilee: North Greenwich
Opened: Friday 14th May 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.7 km (beneath the River Thames again)
Platform (eastbound): exit to the left of the train
Platform (westbound): exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Greenwich, zone 3
Fact file: North Greenwich station is even bigger than Canary Wharf station, but serves a local population of virtually zero. The station contains over 150000 tonnes of reinforced concrete and is sort of purple-themed. There are three platforms here rather than the usual two, just in case anyone ever wants to build a new branch line out to Beckton and the Royal Docks.
5 things I found outside this station: a carelessly-discarded Dome, WH Smiths, a bus station in the middle of nowhere, a 1000-space car park, Group 4 security.
Nearby: Millennium Dome, Millennium Way, Millennium Village, Millennium Quay, Millennium Sainsburys, big fat Millennium zero.
Nearby, but a 5 minutes detour by road: the Blackwall tunnel
Not nearby enough: Greenwich, civilisation.
Local history: It's hard to believe today but until the mid 19th century this was all farmland. The South Metropolitan Gas Works were built here in 1889, once the largest gasworks in Europe (they closed in 1985 but the giant gasholder still serves south-east London). The government chose to site the Millennium Dome here rather than in Birmingham because planned transport links were so good. The Dome opened on 31st December 1999, was universally slated by the press, failed to reach over-ambitious visitor targets and closed a year later having tainted the career of every politician who'd ever been involved with it. I quite liked it. Nobody comes to see the Dome any more, they come to catch buses to Charlton and Bexley. How are the mighty fallen.
Local blog: Casino Avenue (well, local-ish)
Cheap plug 1: My Dome of Doom interactive adventure.
Cheap plug 2: lots more photos on my photo blog today.

 Thursday, May 27, 2004

Big Brother 5 (starts tomorrow, oh yes oh yay)

5 completely unfounded rumours
• The tabloid press will moan endlessly that the latest series is deadly dull, but still continue to waste endless column inches scrutinising the housemates' private lives, especially those with large breasts.
• The Big Brother sofa lifestyle range will be launched by Linda Barker at IKEA over the bank holiday weekend.
• In an attempt to liven up proceedings, this year's secret room will contain three American prison guards and a digital camera.
• Two housemates will have sex within the first week, only to discover afterwards that they're both undercover journalists.
• By Christmas we'll have forgotten every last one of the D-list non-entities, just like we have with whoever it was won last year.

12 completely unconfirmed housemates
Katriona: An unassuming girly girl who loves ponies, but who is also secretly a psychotic sleepwalking murderess.
Baz: Tedious bigoted argumentative loudmouth, of the kind everyone shares an office with but nobody wants to see on the telly.
Liz: Septuagenarian monarch seeking to connect with one's subjects.
Chris & Pat: A married couple, and therefore the least likely of any of the contestants to engage in shagging.
Tanya: Fresh from Larkhill Prison, TV's favourite footballer's wife continues her tour of primetime ratings hits.
Biffa: (in broad Brummie accent) "I hate these bloody lentils, I need my fags, is there any cider left?"
Dermot: Big Brother's Little Brother will be presented from inside the house this year.
Fran: Dull non-entity, but has a birthday in week 3 so that's an excuse for the producers to throw a booze-soaked party.
Billy-no-mates: Fat miserable sod, physically incapable of completing any of the tasks, but never evicted by the public due to his inestimable comedy value.
Lug: Shaven-headed witch who insists on walking around in the nude and sacrificing the chickens.
Tony: Prime Minister in a desperate bid for the youth vote in the run up to the June 10th elections, after which he'll escape over the walls never to be heard from again.

Silver Jubilee: Canary Wharf
Opened: Friday 17th September 1999
Distance from previous station: 2.4 km (beneath the River Thames)
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Change here for: Docklands Light Railway (quite a walk, though)
Photo shows: the new eastern entrance to the station, opened last month (and still fairly quiet).
Fact file: Canary Wharf tube station is an award-winning architectural masterpiece designed by Sir Norman Foster, buried within the former West India Dock. The station is so big that the whole of the largest nearby skyscraper could fit inside lengthways with room to spare. Nothing quite prepares you for your first descent down the bank of escalators into the vast subterranean space.
5 things I found outside this station: Docklands, One Canada Square (Britain's tallest building), a sculpted head lying on its side, Jubilee Place shopping centre beneath Jubilee Park, four clocks on poles.
Nearby: a forest of skyscrapers, over-priced flats, far too many posh shops and bars, new Billingsgate Market, the Museum In Docklands.
Local history: Canary Wharf used to be an insignificant cargo warehouse beside the West India Docks (opened 1802), and was so named because many of its imports came from the Canary Isles. West India Dock finally closed in 1980, the year in which the London Docklands Development Corporation was set up. The docks were filled in and major reconstruction began, with the huge tower at One Canada Square completed in 1990 (my television reception has never recovered). Without Canary Wharf the Jubilee line extension would never have been built. Tens of thousands of people now live and work in Docklands, rather more yuppie financial types than the swarthy dockers of old. Full history here.
Future: More and more skyscrapers are planned (maybe too many if you ask me). See what Canary Wharf might look like in the future here.

 Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Screen 1: The Football Factory (18)

I decided to kick my inertia last night and went out to see a film. A year and two days is quite long enough to spend out of the cinema (although for the last couple of months I suspect I was only hanging on to reach the year milestone out of sheer spite). There was one particular film I wanted to see, except it's not released officially until the day after tomorrow. So instead I went for the local option, a delightful vignette about Chelsea and Millwall football supporters. To add extra realism I went to a screening at the UCI Cinema in Surrey Quays, just a bottle's throw from the New Den. That could have been half the cast I saw drinking outside the redbrick boozer by the station, it was hard to tell.

The Football Factory is a charming tale about a group of good mates with a soccer fixation. They drink together, go on coach trips to far flung stadia together and enjoy nothing better than a little light boxing in the street. No nasty knitted scarves for these gentlemen, they wear only the finest Pringle and Burberry, often liberally splattered with haemoglobin. Their drink of choice is lager, and lots of it, but they down a lot of coke too. Admittedly their language is rather colourful, but nothing worse than you'd hear in the first minute of Four Weddings And A Funeral. All in all these fine friends love life, almost as much as they like kicking it out of other people.

We follow Tom, a fug about to turn firty, who finks filosofically about the frill of freatening behaviour but is forever in the fick of any frottling and frashing. He works down the florists with a racist psychopath, is touchingly devoted to his right-on grandad, and is having premonitions that the gang's young apprentice is about to meet his match. Which, in this case, is a third round cup tie. Appropriately the film's exactly 90 minutes long, and mixes in just enough humour with the bleak unforgiving violence and pathos. Some wooden acting in parts, but any film that plays the Jam's Going Underground over the closing credits can't be all bad (even if the usherette waiting to collect the litter was glaring at me to leave by the end). Home win, 2-0.

Silver Jubilee: Canada Water
Opened: Thursday 19th August 1999
Jubilee platforms opened: Friday 17th September 1999 (1 month later)
Distance from previous station: 1.1 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: East London Line
Fact file: There didn't used to be a station here on the East London line before the Jubilee line came along. Rotherhithe station is only 300m away.
5 things I found outside this station: a big round glass drum, a bus station, large tracts of open space awaiting redevelopment, Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Canada Water (complete with bird raft and wind turbine).
Nearby: Harmsworth Quays (where the Daily Mail and Evening Standard are printed), Rotherhithe (which is actually rather lovely, down by the river at least), the entrance to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, the cinema I went to last night, Millwall FC.
Local history: The Surrey Docks on the Rotherhithe Peninsula closed in 1969. During the subsequent redevelopment almost all of the docks were filled in, but one section of the old Canada Dock remains and this is Canada Water. Locals continue to campaign to make their voices heard as redevelopment continues.

 Tuesday, May 25, 2004

inertia, n. inertness: the inherent property of matter by which it continues, unless constrained, in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line.
I suffer from inertia. It's not terminal or anything, but it affects every aspect of my life. Given the chance I tend to carry on doing the things I've always done, and not veering off the straight and narrow. My life rolls forward uniformly in a straight line without deflection. I am inertial.

I'm happy in my job and am not actively seeking a new one. I like my flat and I'm not looking to move on. I really ought to sort out my endowment mortgage but I can't quite be bothered. I feel no urge to spend my weekends at the garden centre, the department store or the furniture warehouse. I could repaint my bathroom but what's the point? My mobile's more than two years old and I'm not interested in a hi-tech replacement. I wait for my phone to ring rather than taking the initiative and ringing other people. I've not changed one of the 39 tracks on my portable mp3 player since last summer. I sidestep the question 'where are you going on holiday this summer?' at work because I'll probably stay in London. I've not been to the cinema for over a year. I've only had one evening out so far this month, which is a bit rubbish given that there have been 4 weekends in May already. I wake up, go to work and come home, repeatedly. I am, essentially, inert.

I am a snooker ball rolling slowly across the pool table of life (ok, I know I'm mixing my metaphors here, but bear with me). There are very few other balls around on my table for me to bounce off (hmm, maybe this is rather more like billiards). I know a few talented snooker players who used to deflect me on a regular basis (they'd ring me up right on cue and invite me out somewhere) but recently they've been too busy playing doubles instead (my table has been cleared). I expect I'll carry on travelling in my straight line for a very long time, until eventually I rebound off an unexpected cushion into the outfield or some deep dark pocket opens up ahead for me to tumble into (I'd better take a rest there before you start to baulk).

But let's view this another way. Most people strive throughout their lives to reach a state of inertia. They'd love to lead a steady and secure existence, heading forward on a well-defined path. They'd rather not ricochet round the green baize of life, being hit randomly by black after red after blue. Most people long for the safe, the predictable and the uneventful, because the alternative is stress, struggle and uncertainty. I think, all things considered, I rather like having inertia. But then I would say that wouldn't I?

Silver Jubilee: Bermondsey
Opened: Friday 24th September 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.9 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: zone 2
Fact file: Bermondsey station is "a synthesis of heroic engineering structures animated by light, topped off by a sleek, transparent box at ground level." Further gushing architectural drivel here.
5 things I found outside this station: Jamaica Road, an electronic display welcoming you to Bermondsey station, two cashpoints, Feltor Carrington estate agents, densely-packed council blocks.
Nearby: more densely-packed council blocks, Southwark Park, the Pool of London, King's Stairs Gardens (Edward III had a house here).
Not quite nearby: Bermondsey
Local history: Peter Tatchell infamously lost the Bermondsey by-election in 1983, which is the only reason Simon Hughes still has a career. Jade from Big Brother grew up here, giving the lie to estate agents' claims that Bermondsey is now somehow trendy. More about local redevelopment here, local history here, and local historians here.

 Monday, May 24, 2004

Bloggeration: I've been using the new redesigned Blogger interface for a fortnight now. I've been very patient, I've tried hard to learn how everything works and I'm impressed with some bits, but I'm afraid there are still ten changes I avidly dislike. Are you listening Evan?

1) I can't edit and see what I'm editing at the same time. This is particularly annoying if I change something and want to look back and see what I've changed it from, because I can't.
2) I can save a draft post or I can publish a post, but I can't just post a post any more and publish it later. If I want to edit lots of posts, I have to wait for ages while they each publish separately.
3) After I've published a post, Blogger takes me to a useless 'just published' page. If I want to go back and edit my post it takes two further mouse clicks via the index, whereas it used to take none.
4) All 'previews' appear in grey text rather than black text, which is no use if I'm trying to write in a mixture of black and grey (as I have been all month) because I can't see which is which.
5) It's all too easy to press the wrong button and accidentally lose the entire post I've just been writing, especially if I've been using the 'preview' function and haven't saved it yet.
6) It's particularly easy to lose an entire post if I accidentally click on the blue strip across the top of the edit page, because this takes me back to the pointless 'Dashboard' feature.
7) The precise time of a post is no longer displayed on my blog index page. I can change the time if I want, but the default is now the time I start writing a post, not the time I publish it.
8) I can't search for an old post by date any more because the old 'calendar' function has been disabled. Instead I have to remember a word from the post I'm looking for and search for that.
9) Blogger's new low-fi comment system takes two clicks to access, plus the comment doesn't appear on the other person's blog immediately so I can't see what I just wrote in context.
10) If I do add a comment to a Blogger blog, the link from my comment goes to my profile page not to my blog. Except I don't want a godforsaken twee profile page, so it links nowhere.

Silver Jubilee: London Bridge
Opened: Sunday 25th February 1900
Jubilee line platforms opened: Thursday 7th October 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.3 km
Platform: exit to the right of the train
Change here for: Northern line and mainline services
Fact file: There are now two exits from this station, the original beneath the mainline station and a new exit onto Borough High Street. More photos here.
5 things I found outside this station: London Bridge, the London Dungeon, Borough Market (selling posh organic food for Observer readers), Southwark Cathedral, Guy's Hospital
Nearby: The Clink (a notorious medieval prison), the Golden Hinde (a reconstruction of Drake's famous galleon), the Greater London Assembly and, one day soon-ish probably, the 1016ft high London Bridge Tower (controversial pointy skyscraper).
Local history: The Romans built the first London Bridge across the Thames in AD43. The first stone bridge appeared in 1176, famously lined by rickety buildings and traitors' heads on spikes. A new bridge followed in 1831, only to be shipped to Lake Havasu in Arizona in the 1960s and replaced by a desperately dull concrete span.
Local blog: Miss Elaine Neous

 Sunday, May 23, 2004

New York London Paris Madrid...

(...and Moscow too, except they haven't got a hope). These are the five cities still in the race for the 2012 Olympic Games, each eagerly seeking fame, glory and crippling long-term debt. I'm delighted to see that the industrial wasteland just up the road from my house is still on the final shortlist for this glittering prize. But the grey-suited men of the International Olympic Committee have held a mirror up to London's Olympic submission and haven't been quite as impressed as I might have hoped. They liked our airports, our hotels and our eco-friendly sustainable Olympic village. They weren't so impressed by public opinion, air pollution or our lack of experience in organising anything similar recently. But there's one common factor that all commentators believe is London's Achilles heel, and that's transport.

London thought it was being very clever sticking the majority of Olympic sports within a small area of East London but the rest at world famous locations around the capital. Wimbledon, Wembley and Horseguards Parade to name but a few - surely these landmark sites were vote winners? Well no, because the IOC scrutineers spotted just how long it will take athletes to travel from the Olympic village to such far-flung outposts, and they're not taken in.
Rail public transport is often obsolete and considerable investments must be made to upgrade the existing system in terms of capacity and safety. Urban expressways and main arterial road facilities lack the capacity to provide reasonable travel times and speeds. Due to its extremely dispersed Olympic venue concept (with the exception of Olympic Park), the average travel distances are substantially longer than most Applicant Cities. Moreover, the assumed average urban bus travel speeds (61km/h) appear unrealistic.
But hang on gentlemen! London's transport may not be perfect but it's by no means obsolete. Millions of us manage to travel around the capital each day without resorting to horse-drawn vehicles or steam locomotives. These ancient Victorian tube lines of ours are just an indication that we invented them first. And let's not forget that the 2012 Olympics will be happening in August when the Underground is half empty anyway. All those poor tennis players who need to get to Wimbledon, they can ride there from Bromley-by-Bow via the District line like the rest of us. As for the world's finest footballers, there's a five year-old engineering marvel called the Jubilee line that can take them from Stratford to Wembley direct. Admittedly it'll be harder to extend the new East London line as far as Weymouth, but surely international yachtsmen are more likely sail there than to hop onto public transport. So, spoilt ungrateful executives of the IOC, step out of your chauffeur-driven limousines and try joining the rest of us in second class for a change. I'll save you all a seat on the DLR in eight years' time, OK?

Silver Jubilee: Southwark
Opened: Saturday 20th November 1999
Distance from previous station: 450m
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Southwark
Change here for: mainline services from Waterloo East
Photo shows: the vast mid-level concourse, one wall of which is covered by blue glass triangles. Wow, go see.
Fact file: Three separate escalators lead down to the platforms from the big blue cavern, each burrowing down between separate arches of the Victorian viaduct above.
5 things I found outside this station: a circular entrance lobby lit by a central glass drum, Waterloo East station (via dedicated exit), Blackfriars Road, a building site dominated by a towering blue crane (any buyers for a new glassy office building?), The Ring public house
Nearby: not a lot
Not quite nearby enough: Tate Modern, Oxo Tower, Globe Theatre.
Local history: Southwark has long been the dark side of London, with the southern banks of the Thames home to brothels, bear-baiting and some bloke called William Shakespeare.

 Saturday, May 22, 2004

Bow Road update: Meanwhile, over at Bow Road on the District line, my local station upgrade continues apace. No less than three new blue walls have been constructed in the last fortnight. There's one at the top of the stairs down to the eastbound platform, another in the corner of the ticket hall and a third around the scaffolding on the pavement in front of the station. Add those to the five existing blue walls along the platforms and one more on the pavement, and some kind of blue wall event horizon seems to have been reached. Perhaps some renovation work is going on behind those blue walls, it's still impossible to tell. Or maybe we've just become some new art installation, displaying an array of modern safety signage on clean blue surfaces, juxtaposed against late Victorian brickwork. Keep an eye on this comments box for further developments.

Silver Jubilee: Waterloo
Opened: Saturday 10th March 1906
Jubilee line platforms opened: Saturday 20th November 1999
Distance from previous station: 1.0 km (beneath River Thames)
Platform: exit to the right of the train
You are now entering: the London Borough of Lambeth
Change here for: Bakerloo, Northern and Waterloo & City lines, and mainline services
Photo shows: the two very long moving walkways that link the Jubilee line to all other connecting services.
Fact file: Waterloo station has 23 escalators, more than any other underground station. The Jubilee platforms are 30m below ground.
5 things I found outside this station: Waterloo mainline station, Waterloo Eurostar station, a giant illuminated elephant's head at the top of an escalator, an IMAX cinema, homeless people.
Nearby: The South Bank = Saatchi Gallery + London Aquarium + London Eye + Jubilee Gardens + Royal Festival Hall + Queen Elizabeth Hall + Hayward Gallery + Golden Jubilee Bridges + National Film Theatre + National Theatre
Local history: Waterloo mainline station (opened 1848) was named after nearby Waterloo Bridge (opened by Prince George 18th June 1817), originally due to be called Strand Bridge but renamed to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo (18th June 1815).

 Friday, May 21, 2004

The Jubilee line extension May 1999

When the Jubilee line was opened 25 years ago, it was always intended that it would be extended further. The line was meant to head east from Charing Cross to an enlarged station at Aldwych, then on to new stations at Ludgate Circus and Fenchurch Street (still the only mainline London terminal with no tube connection). From here the railway would have headed down to New Cross and Lewisham, or eastwards through the decaying London Docks to Silvertown and Thamesmead, or both. (Look, maps) But the money ran out before any of that could happen, and it took the promise of hard cash from the developers of Canary Wharf to kickstart the extension plans again. In 1990 new plans were put forward to extend the Jubilee line from Green Park to Stratford, severing the ten-year-old connection to Charing Cross. The chosen route linked central London to Docklands by heading south of the Thames into areas previously poorly served by underground services. (Look, more maps. Look, a seriously in-depth history of the whole story)

Construction of the Jubilee line extension began in 1993. The extension was 10 miles long, serving eleven stations (three of them completely new). It would cost more than £3 billion to build and was a bold step into the future. All stations would be fully accessible with lifts to street level. All stations would have platform-edge doors (they improve airflow as well as safety). All stations would be enormous enough to cope with increased passenger traffic over the next five decades. And, most importantly of all as it turned out, all stations would be designed independently by different architects. And wow aren't they fantastic? It's almost worth taking a trip down the line stopping off at every station just to admire the stunningly impressive use of concrete. Which is what I'll be doing on here each day for the rest of the month. Prepare to stand in awe.

Jubilee line extension opening (1999)
Friday 14th May: North Greenwich to Stratford opened (by John Prescott)
Friday 17th September: Bermondsey to North Greenwich opened
Friday 24th September: Waterloo to Bermondsey opened (but not Southwark or London Bridge)
Thursday 7th October: London Bridge opened
Saturday 20th November: Green Park to Waterloo (but not Westminster) plus Southwark opened, Charing Cross closed
Wednesday 22nd December: Westminster opened, just in time before...
Friday 31st December: Millennium Dome opened. If nothing else, it got the Jubilee line extension built.

Jubilee line extension links
all my Silver Jubilee posts on one page
my Jubilee photo blog (with bonus extra photos)
much better photos than I've taken
more much better photos than I've taken
even more much better photos than I've taken
reviewing the new stations
a literary view of an engineering masterpiece

Silver Jubilee: Westminster
Opened: Thursday 24th December 1868
Jubilee line platforms opened: Tuesday 22nd December 1999 (the newest platforms on the Underground network)
Distance from previous station: 1.3 km
Platform (eastbound): exit to the left of the train
Platform (westbound): exit to the right of the train
Change here for: District and Circle lines
Station originally called: Westminster Bridge
Fact file: Rebuilding Westminster station to accommodate the Jubilee line was an engineering nightmare, restricted by the close proximity of the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames. Great care had to be taken to prevent Big Ben from toppling (the solution involved meticulous injections of liquid cement and 'compensation grouting'). The District line platforms had to be lowered by half a metre, beneath those went the eastbound Jubilee tunnel, and beneath that the westbound tunnel. A deep narrow cavern was excavated 32 metres downwards beneath Portcullis House, filled with interlocking escalators, concrete struts and concourses. It's quite magnificent, like a giant grey game of snakes and ladders.
This is my station: I descend three levels down from the District line into the bowels of the earth every morning, but ascend back only two levels in the evening. And yes, I never fail to be impressed by the stunning architecture as I pass through.
5 things I found outside this station: Big Ben (OK, St Stephen's Tower), the Houses of Parliament, Portcullis House, the River Thames, tight security.
Nearby: Westminster Abbey, Westminster Hall, Whitehall, the Cenotaph, democracy (apparently).
Local history: No no no, national history.

 Thursday, May 20, 2004

my diary, day 10000: Tuesday 18th May 2004 (age 39, London, 310 words)
"Bloody hell, I've made it to ten thousand days of writing a diary, + there's not one day missing." (yes, I know I already told you that, but I needed to tell my diary too) "Storm up escalators at Green Park but get overtaken near top." (I'd never have written that normally, I was just performing for a slightly wider-than-usual audience) <delete morning of work stuff> (I have five full days of identical meetings this week, and it's getting repetitive) "Lunch is served, exactly the same selection of sandwiches as yesterday." (our catering contractors have the cheek to call a bowl of plain ready salted crisps a 'potato chip medley') "Discuss football play-offs with visitors." (I reckon I fooled them all into thinking I knew exactly what I was talking about) <delete longer-than-usual afternoon of work stuff> (sometimes when you get out of an all-day meeting, there's still a day's work to do) "Eventually escape just before 8 after 11½ hours." (sigh, but at least the tube was empty) "Home for pie and TV." (I preferred Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares to Bad Girls) "London through to 2012 Olympic shortlist." (suddenly I have this nagging suspicion that our 'obsolete' rail network is going to lose it) "10000 may be dead impressive, but alas today's been typically dull." (and therefore perfectly typical)

my diary, day 9000: Wednesday 22nd August 2001 (age 36, Ipswich, 223 words)
"Today I'm packing." (you nearly missed my entire spell living in East Anglia, because here I am preparing to move all my worldly goods down to London four days later) "Time to fill 8 more binbags... well done!" (I'm an abject hoarder, so this pre-move clear-out was an unexpected success) "Hmmm, 4 boxes of Record Mirrors, complete set 1984-91, but not looked at in 10 years. Go on, chuck 'em, bar a small sample. Sigh, after all that effort in collecting and moving them." (the abject hoarder in me still can't believe I ever threw this complete set of back issues away. I could have flogged them all instead if only I'd thought of it. But hey, life's too short) "Later <insert Blue Witch> rings about <insert details of egg-related project> and <insert name of breakfast television programme>." (don't worry, my lips are sealed) "London? It'll be fine." (and so it was)

my diary, day 8000: Thursday 26th November 1998 (age 33, Bedford, 612 words)
<delete work stuff> (got up, went to work all day, came home) "Ipswich interview letter has arrived in the post, interviews next week!" (we've hit a major turning point in my life today, though I didn't know I was going to get the job at the time) "Ring <insert name of my ex> who suddenly realises I might be serious about moving in. Am I sure I want to go ahead?" (I was, but I've never considered doing that again with anyone else since) "Next call from <insert name of brother> saying <insert name of brother's wife> had her 20 week scan today, the baby's ok and it's a boy. Would I like to be godfather?" (too right I would, and <insert name-to-be of embryo> is now a right little character) "Rang <insert name of my ex> again later, just back from meal out with workmate." (or, far more likely as it turned out, just back from shagging someone else. But I didn't realise that at the time)

my diary, day 7000: Friday 1st March 1996 (age 30, Bedford, 669 words)
"I fell asleep for the last 10 minutes of leap day and woke up 30 seconds into March." (Newsnight Late Review must have been boring that week) <delete work stuff> (trust me, you're not missing any interesting work stuff here) "After work, straight out to Sainsburys in the drizzle." (that was the limit of my Friday night social life in those days, but that's Bedford for you) "TV: TFI Friday, A Song for Europe (8 songs whittled down to 4), Brookside (Mike & Lindsey arrested in Thailand for drug smuggling), The Fast Show, Red Dwarf, Fist Of Fun, Reeves & Mortimer." (blimey, an absolutely classic comedy line-up) "Zzzz at midnight." (you're probably asleep by now too, aren't you?)

 Wednesday, May 19, 2004

my diary, day 6000: Saturday 5th June 1993 (age 28, Bedford, 801 words)
Today is cousin <insert name of cousin>'s wedding, so I've got to get back to Watford. (that's much better, we've actually hit an interesting day for once) "Bung suit in bag and head to station. <delete dull details of journey>. Hi to Mum, who insists on re-ironing my shirt." (hi to my Mum again. This'll be the first time she's read my diary, I trust. Hope it goes down well) "<insert name of cousin> is on crutches because he broke his leg recently (weddings are supposed to be memorable, aren't they?) "Hey it's <insert name of last surviving grandmother> smiling in a borrowed wheelchair." (she wouldn't make my brother's wedding three months later, and died within the year, sniff) "Groan, we're on video. Amazing how cameras and videos take over." (nobody arranges weddings any more, they stage them) "Out of church, cue photos, confetti and more photos. <insert name of brother> suddenly discovers there's no film in his camera - he's gutted." (maybe just as well, I was never convinced that cream suit suited me) "Oh great, it's prawns." (the wedding reception staple, followed inexorably by chicken) "Try to stay awake until the speeches, but <insert name of groom> does very well. Very." (a real rarity that, the wedding speech that's memorable for all the right reasons) "After the reception hang around waiting for the evening to start. Sit in the corner of the garden playing blow football with aphids." (please don't complain to the RSPCA, they'd have died anyway) "Oh god, it's a band not a disco. The ballroom clears." (when will people learn? It's not a proper wedding without Oops Upside Your Head) "Over comes <insert name of overly keen Auntie> and demands that me and <insert name of equally jaded female cousin> dance. With menaces." (so we did, sort of, very eventually, then went back and sat and watched from a safe distance for the rest of the evening) (family weddings, don't you just love them?)

my diary, day 5000: Sunday 9th September 1990 (age 25, Windsor, 480 words)
"The day dawns with me thankfully still asleep." (my flatmates had got home late and loud the previous night) "Went down the road for my Sunday Correspondent." (only lasted a year, that paper) "Read paper while my steak+kidney defrosts." (Sundays can be a real challenge to fill when you're a diarist. Often you're forced to chronicle the criminally mundane) "<insert name of landlady> rang during the Top 40 saying please can she have my rent in cash from now on please." (first hint that she was in serious financial trouble, and I was asked to move out a few months later) "Shame that The Joker beat Groove Is In The Heart to number 1." (the only time two records tied for the number 1 position, but Steve Miller nudged Deee-Lite out on some archane technicality)

my diary, day 4000: Monday 14th December 1987 (age 22, Windsor, 696 words)
<delete work stuff> (sorry, we've hit another desperately dull day here. How did I ever write nigh 700 words about such banalities?) "At lunch an expedition into Windsor town centre. First stop ye olde watchmaker, I don't like paying £2.50 just to get my battery changed." (they're a complete con aren't they, watch batteries?) "Second stop Top Print, the printing of the annual Christmas card is imminent." (I've been making my own Christmas cards for the last 20 years, even though it would be so much easier to buy 40 folded cardboard robins instead) <delete more work stuff> (three-quarters of today's diary is work-related) "Brookside: Growler brings home his school report." (what is it with Phil Redmond and crap nicknames?)

my diary, day 3000: Tuesday 19th March 1985 (age 20, just back from uni, 302 words)
"My Giro account's down to £125, and they haven't taken the hideously huge electricity bill out yet." (that's Girobank, not dole payments, ok? And nowadays I doubt there are any student accounts even as much as £125 in credit) "Along comes the new chart: Dead Or Alive slump to 6 making way for the two Phils." (that's Collins and Bailey, and how disappointing to swap a perfect Number 1 for that dirge) "Nigel Lawson's 2nd budget presents compulsory non-employment for under 18s, petrol up 4p (now over £2), road tax ↑10 to £100. Pah!" (I wasn't impressed, but petrol was still less than 50p a litre in those days) "TV: Whistle Test, James Burke in 'The Day The Universe Changed' and Brookside (Heather buys a new car)." (sorry that was dull, but you narrowly missed all the juicy university stuff from the end of term a couple of days earlier)

 Tuesday, May 18, 2004

my diary, day 2000: Wednesday 23rd June 1982 (age 17, Watford, 266 words)
"Back to school." (having done the second of my maths A-Level papers the previous day) "It's still all wet + cloudy + nasty + horrible + not like summer at all." (when in doubt, fill space by writing about the weather) "Geography: <insert name of teacher> accidentally read out some of the questions from our exam next week." (it was only a school exam but, looking back, I wonder how 'accidental' that was) "There is no Games so home I go." (you can't begin to imagine how pleased I was that my afternoon of school sport was cancelled) "Steve Wright manages to be very funny as usual." (look, we all grow up, let me off) "TV: totally repeats or the World Cup." (I bet I went and listened to Kid Jensen on Radio 1 instead)

my diary, day 1000: Thursday 27th September 1979 (age 14, Watford, 62 words)
"Geography: Rivers + estuaries. Collect books in." (to think, they say schooldays are the best days of your life) "Latin: Sit down for unseen test. Fire drill. <insert name of teacher> angry." (yes, we did Latin at my school, and what a useful O-Level it's been. And yes, we did all stand out on the playing field during the fire drill swapping answers) "French: <insert name of ancient teacher who also taught my Dad> is angry about shouting, makes us stay in." (kids eh?) "Cross Country: time 31 min 39 sec." (trust me, that sounds much better than saying 'came last again') "Citizen Smith on TV, they hijack a lift." (it's true apparently, down at Tooting Town Hall in an episode called 'Only Fools and Horses')

my diary, day 1: Saturday 1st January 1977 (age 11, Watford, 35 words)
"Up at 12 for 1977." (look, I was obsessively numerate even in the very first line) "Went to St Albans to sing Evensong." (yes I was a right little cherub in those days, with a singing voice as fine then as it is average now) "I was in Group B." (I hadn't quite got the hang of writing interesting stuff yet, had I?) "<insert name of choirmaster> drove us home but went mad at the Noke." (by which I mean he filled up with petrol beside a well known hotel outside St Albans, then drove out of the garage the wrong way down a dual carriageway. I told my Mum this later, and rarely she has been more mortified) "Choir party. Got given two uninteresting Tempo pens." (selfish ungrateful brat)

diary geezer

I wonder how many of you have ever kept a diary. A secret place to write down your thoughts and inner musings or just somewhere to record what you did each day. You probably started on 1st January, tried really hard for a week, got a bit bored, missed a day out, then gave up before February started. Or maybe you lasted a bit longer. If you're the sort of person who can write a daily blog, you're probably the sort of person who can keep a diary.

I started writing a diary on January 1st 1977. It was a Puffin Club diary I'd got for Christmas, only three inches by four, with a red cover and a tiny biro stuffed down the spine. I duly filled in the Personal Particulars at the front and started to chronicle my life. I wrote in code so that nobody else in my family would be able to read what I'd written (well not easily anyway, I hope). There were only ten short lines to fill in each day so I recorded a few edited highlights and little more. Many of my early comments are now too cryptic for me to unravel, but it's fascinating to look back to my first year at secondary school, to remember what my life used to be like and to watch myself developing.

I started writing a diary on January 1st 1977, and I carried on. It survived into February 1977 without me slipping up, I logged religiously through the summer and my next Puffin diary arrived the following Christmas. I moved up to a small Letts in 1980, then a bigger volume in 1981 so I could write about things in a little more detail rather than just listing them. It still wasn't an enormous diary so most of my university days aren't recorded in quite as much detail as I might like. I upsized again in 1986, reaching a point where I probably spent far too long writing about unnecessary minutiae just to fill the space. Odd how you only really have time to write a regular diary when your life isn't quite full enough to be worth regularly writing about.

I started writing a diary on January 1st 1977, and I never stopped. I still write my diary every night before I go to bed (you can tell I'm single can't you?), except if I'm knackered or busy when I write it up the following day. I've never missed a day out either. There's not one gap, not one day's memories blanked, not one day where I thought "Ah stuff it, I can't be bothered to write about today." Which is bloody impressive actually. I can look back at any day in the last 27½ years and see what I was doing, what I was thinking, and probably what I had for lunch. It's more factual than emotional, more descriptive than confessional, but that's just a reflection of my personality. And it's all for personal consumption only. I have no eye on publication or posterity, so there are a few frank and honest chunks I hope nobody else ever reads.

I started writing a diary on January 1st 1977, and today is the 10000th day I shall write an entry. Ten thousand entries, that's a hell of a lot of writing. By my calculations that's about five million words, which is six times as long as the Bible (and to me at least six hundred times as interesting). It's taken approximately six months to write too, which is a bit scary. And I guess it's been good practice for daily blogging, even if a blog presents a different, less personal, more guarded face to the world.

To celebrate my "ten-thousand days" milestone, I thought I'd share some choice extracts from my diary with you. Just a few snapshots you understand, edited highlights for a wider-than-intended audience. Plus I'll chuck in a running commentary to explain a little of what was going on at the time. You can read Day 1, Day 1000 and Day 2000 today, and every thousandth day thereafter over the next couple of days. Samuel Pepys it ain't.

 Monday, May 17, 2004

A comprehensive history of Charing Cross underground station

It's surprisingly complicated this, so do follow closely. There are four separate station locations round Charing Cross, which I'll label (down by the river), (outside the mainline station), (beneath Trafalgar Square) and (up Aldwych). If you click here and scroll down to 'Bakerloo line' you can follow all this on a map. For a detailed underground plan of Charing Cross station today, click here. For further explanation of the whole renaming mess, click here. And if you can't cope with what follows don't worry, because I promise I'm taking a three-day break from the Jubilee line tomorrow.

1870: A District line station opens on the Embankment to the south of Charing Cross mainline station, and is named Charing Cross.
1906: A Bakerloo line station opens beneath Charing Cross District line station, but is called Embankment instead. Another Bakerloo line station opens 350 metres northwest at Trafalgar Square.
1907: The Northern line opens, terminating just north of the mainline station at a station called Charing Cross♣. Meanwhile the Piccadilly line opens a branch from Holborn to Strand.
1914: The Northern line is extended 250 metres southwards from Charing Cross♣ to join the Bakerloo line at Embankment station, which is renamed Charing Cross (Embankment). Meanwhile Charing Cross♣ is renamed Charing Cross (Strand)♣.
1915: Charing Cross (Embankment) is renamed Charing Cross, and Charing Cross (Strand) is renamed Strand♣. Meanwhile the old Strand station is renamed Aldwych.
(deep breath, here comes the Jubilee line)
1973: Strand♣ station on the Northern line is closed to prepare for the arrival of the new Fleet Jubilee line.
1974: Charing Cross station is renamed Charing Cross Embankment.
1976: Charing Cross Embankment is renamed Embankment (and so it remains).
1979: The Jubilee line opens. It terminates at a newly-enlarged Charing Cross♣ station, linking the old Bakerloo♠ and Northern♣ line stations. The Bakerloo line platforms are renamed Charing Cross (for Trafalgar Square). The Jubilee line tunnels continue almost as far as Aldwych, because this is expected to be the next station when the line is extended further...
1994: ...but no, Aldwych station is closed instead (read about the now-disused station here and here).
1999: The Jubilee line extension from Green Park to Stratford is opened, and the 20 year-old tunnels from Green Park to Charing Cross♣ are closed (see photos here).
2004: Charing Cross♣ station still feels like two stations joined by a very long subway, so if you want to save yourself a long walk you should change between the Bakerloo♠ and Northern♣ lines at Embankment instead.

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