diamond geezer

 Thursday, September 12, 2019

When you go out for a walk with someone else, you likely spend a lot of the time talking about the places and things around you. When you go out for a walk by yourself, you have to have an inner monologue with yourself. Allow me to share it with you.

Monier Road, Fish Island

That's new, I've not seen that before. It's certainly striking, I mean it's not artistically brilliant but you can't miss it. Obviously it's a complete over-reaction, the world isn't going to end next year, probably, but there is still very much something of the zeitgeist about it. Things are hurtling out of control at a depressing rate, not entirely unprecedented but I can't remember a time like it. Armageddon remains an unlikely consequence, indeed we've survived the majority of Trump's presidency without any buttons coming close to being pressed. But the UK could easily be in deep chaos by the end of the year, unlike anything we've seen before, especially if the government insists on smashing constitutional norms willy-nilly. Just imagine where we could end up if both Boris and Donald win their next elections with terms secure until 2024, it doesn't bear thinking about. The colours are quite pretty. I wonder how many Instagram likes it would get.

Bushberry Road, Hackney Wick

Ooh look, it's one of those rare NE postcode signs. It's very very faded, but maybe that's why it's survived. There's another one at the other end of the street, and that's in a very similar condition except somebody's coloured in the initial 'B'. The NE postcode was abolished in London in 1866 and absorbed into E instead, which is why it's now E9 round here rather than NE something, but the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney continued to use NE on street signs until 1917. Still, they must be at least 100 years old. I think these two haven't been taken down because Bushberry Road is a proper backwater these days, ever since the A12 dual carriageway wiped out neighbouring Bartripp Street and Cowdray Street, which means the council have put up modern signs at the Kenworthy Road end, not here. I bet the zoom on my phone won't capture this properly. There are far better examples elsewhere. The Ghostsigns website is tracking them all down.

Chatsworth Road, Homerton

My god, what's happened along here. I remember this as a proper down-at-heel backwater, even before I moved to London, all betting shops, minimarkets and laundrettes, as befitted the backside of Hackney. I guess the Victorian terraces proved too appealing to incomers, then that weekend market properly turbocharged gentrification. Now it's all louche pavement cafes, wellness hubs, creperies and boutiques selling pre-loved ornaments, even a special shop for spoiling the dog or cat in your life. Have you seen the prices in that estate agents' window? The previous demographic must still be here somewhere because a decent scattering of cheap shops remain, and Percy Ingle isn't going anywhere. I love the decaying frontage of this old tobacconists with its hand-rolled Golden Virginia advert and worn checkerboard doorstep tiling, but the next entrepreneur is sure to rip it out.

Millfields Park, Clapton

Well I've never seen one of these before. Unlit Public Footpath. Who on earth decided this was in any way necessary? Admittedly the footpath to the right is the towpath of the Lea Navigation, and nobody wants to end up walking a mile down the edge of Hackney Marshes after dark by mistake. But if it was after sunset the lack of streetlights down the river ought to be pretty damned obvious, you might think, enough to deter anybody from accidentally using it. Also, technically the footpath isn't unlit during the day because a large star called the Sun shines down on it. I mean, there are literally thousands of footpaths elsewhere in London and the rest of the country which ought to have 'Unlit Public Footpath' signs erected if this is genuinely deemed necessary. I'd rather be told where a footpath went than told it was unlit. Where will it all end?

Millfields Park, Clapton

Gosh look at that, in the verge, it's one of those London County Council boundary marks. In fact there are two, one low and stumpy and the other rather taller. You might well assume it marked a county boundary, and the former edge of Essex is indeed close by, but officially that runs down the centre of the other river channel. In fact these boundary markers were merely used to show where the edge of the LCC's property lay - the park had been theirs since 1889, and for five years before that the Metropolitan Board of Works', and before that Lammas land owned by the Lord of the Manor because Hackney was a very different place in those days. You can also find these markers around the edge of Wandsworth Common, Clapham Common, Hampstead Heath and Hainault Forest. Yeah, I read about it on the internet.

Cycleway 23, Lea Bridge Road

Does anybody understand how London's cycle paths have been numbered? I have CS2 outside my front door, but Cycle Superhighways are no longer deemed super so this one's merely Cycleway 23. It's almost part of Quietway 2, but that headed up the valley a few hundred metres earlier, so goodness knows why the cycle-counter beside the track has a purple-branded header. Dammit, however hard I try to get the number to click up by one, simply by walking past, the 393 refuses to change. Then there's NCN1 painted on the tarmac, which I assume relates to National Cycle Network route 1 running up the side of the Lea, and the whole thing is an astonishing cacophony of disparate acronyms. Further up the road are signs for C26 and C27, which I believe don't yet exist, and if you go to the official cycle route map on the TfL website it doesn't even have C23 on it yet. What an unhelpful mess.

You should come for a walk with me more often.

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