diamond geezer

 Friday, November 19, 2010

I wrote a long post about Crossrail last night. Sorry, it's not here.

The designs for eight new Central London Crossrail stations were launched yesterday at an exhibition off Tottenham Court Road. Boris went along to the Building Centre and stood in front of a series of illustrations, and the media dutifully reported what he said. So I thought I'd write a post about it. It took me ages, several hours, and I was nearly at the end when I accidentally pressed some mysterious combination of keys and deleted the lot. Blogger always saves drafts of posts as you type, so it ought to be impossible to lose everything, but apparently I discovered the magic keypress which kills it all. I hunted around, I clicked 'back' on my browser, I tried everything, but the entire 1000 words or so had completely disappeared. Bloody bastard Blogger shortcuts.

I'd researched this post specially. In particular I'd been along to the exhibition after work yesterday to take a look. The display wasn't as big as I was expecting, merely a wall full of sketchy artists impressions (which somehow managed to be both informative and unhelpful at the same time). I wrote some particularly illuminating sentences about the exhibition, including how totally uninspiring Farringdon station will look, but my crafted words have disappeared and I can't quite remember how I phrased everything.

I took some photos too, like this shot of the Centre's scale model of London, now with Crossrail threading though the skyscrapers. There was a cutaway of a station too, with a long descending escalator and a plastic platform in a tube, but that photo didn't come out so well. I seamlessly linked those photos into the text I was writing, while I still had some text that is, which now I don't.

There was one particular sentence about how all the stations look like airport terminals buried underground, which isn't necessarily a good thing. I had a particular laugh at the verbose drivel some of the architects had written about their beloved designs. Bond Street, for example, "will use the concept of a colonnaded pavilion which enables internal spaces to be perceived from various parts of the station and which will provide framing for the movement of people while assisting passenger flows and intuitive way-finding." I'm not the only one writing inadequate rubbish today.

And I'd composed an entire paragraph about how incredibly long Crossrail stations will be, often with two entrances linked to adjacent underground stations. The platforms are going to be 260m long, that was the crux of it, which explains how Bond Street Crossrail station will have an exit as far away as Oxford Circus. Get your walking shoes on, people of London. Except I phrased it better than that, and there were better examples.

I bemoaned the fact that, despite having been to the exhibition, I still couldn't picture how the most of the new stations will actually look because the drawings were too woolly. I had a whinge about the newly-revamped Crossrail website, which has lots of textual detail about the eight new central stations but very few useful illustrations and hardly any useful maps or plans. And I linked everything together in a hopefully interesting and informative way. All gone, lost, wiped.

Hell, I even popped in to the official Crossrail Visitor Information Centre at Centre Point too. It's only open Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I have to say it's not exactly buzzing with visitors even then. The staff summarily ignored me all the time I was looking round, which suggests the three of them don't exactly have the most difficult job in the world. They can count themselves lucky my original post has disappeared, because I wasn't quite so polite about them in that.

So look, I spent my evening walking the streets of London doing some original on-the-spot research, then coming home later than usual and pouring my thoughts out into this web browser. I thought you might appreciate the effort, and I was quite proud of what I'd almost churned out. And then at ten to midnight, whilst polishing the last few sentences for added nuance, I managed to delete an entire evening's work. I was not best pleased.

I stared at the blank rectangle for a while and considered trying to recreate my extinct masterpiece. If I stayed up until 2am, maybe 3, I could probably reassemble something which read sort-of similarly. I was sorely tempted. Except it wouldn't have been quite as good, I realised that, so I decided against. Instead, sorry, you've got this incoherent moan written in a fraction of the time, conveying only a flavour of the information I meant to bring to you today.

So that's six hours of my life I'll never get back, and with nothing decent to show for my troubles. Maybe I'll learn one day that there are better ways to spend an evening than waffling at length online. But, more likely, Crossrail'll be along first.

London Reconnections has proper details and photos of the eight newly-launched Crossrail station designs.
» Paddington (just what Paddington needs, another underground station)
» Bond Street (with an eastern exit in Hanover Square, which will suddenly get a lot busier)
» Tottenham Court Road (the entire Olympic Park will be completed in less time than will TCR)
» Farringdon (did I mention how uninspiringly dull I thought this station looked?)
» Liverpool Street (meanwhile the other end of the train will be at Moorgate station)
» Whitechapel (they're building some fancy pedestrian concourse above the Overground platforms)
» Canary Wharf (this one's well underway already, and should look impressively shiplike)
» Custom House (the only one of these eight stations with platforms above ground)

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