Sun 1: The building in Stratford where The Guardian used to print their oddly-sized newspaper, before they went tabloid to save money, finally has a new tenant. Welcome to Travis Perkins tool hire. Mon 2: My broadband provider has upgraded me to fibre as promised. I'm now getting speeds 10 times faster than before, vroom! But I only know this because I used a broadband speed checker before and after... I'd never have noticed the improvement otherwise. Tue 3: A special prize to the bloke in the otherwise-empty pharmacy who, having collected his prescription, chose to exit the shop via the aisle I was standing in rather than the two to either side. We all have our personal level of obliviousness. Wed 4: The results of the US election are inconclusive at present, but it looks like Joe Biden may have nudged just far enough ahead that all Trump's lawsuits and gerrymandering won't quite be enough to pull things back. The world dodged a bullet there.
Thu 5: Birdwatching update: I'm standing on the main bridge in the north of the Olympic Park just after the fog has lifted. I've stood here hundreds of times before. Suddenly I spot a blue bird darting across the river into the reeds beneath me. Was that a kingfisher? I may never be sure. But then the bird re-emerges and flies low above the water as a streak of blue, and my sightline is perfect and hell yes, that's definitely what it was. It's taken me five and a half decades to finally see one and I am well chuffed. I descend to the riverside path and follow it upstream, more in hope than expectation. Imagine my surprise when the kingfisher suddenly flies out of the undergrowth and lands in a tree on the opposite bank, pauses briefly and then speeds back. What a magnificent bird! But that's a lifetime's luck used up in five minutes flat. Fri 6: What do TfL's Commercial Development team chat about in their podcasts? Building houses across the organisation's land, mainly, but in this also case the architecture of the suburbs in a conversation with Joshua Abbott, author of Modernism in Metroland. Download to your device (or just listen for half an hour) here. Sat 7: I found 43 fireworks scattered across the street in Stroudley Walk this morning. Must've been some awesome pranking last night (or a lot of nuisance, depending). Sun 8: In important festive news, the Christmas trees at Canary Wharf don't have "CCTV in operation" baubles this year.
Mon 9: Birdwatching update: I'm in Leyton, crossing the footbridge over the Dagenham Brook at the foot of Jubilee Park. I stop to look at the river... and a kingfisher flies out of the undergrowth disturbed by my presence. It must be top of the food chain in this minor stream. I watch it dart upstream to a clump of trees, then wait awhile in case it shows its blue plumage again but no, my bonus appearance is over. That's more than a lifetime's luck used up in five days flat. Tue 10: My blogpost on protected views has been picked up by Metafilter, the esteemed aggregator from the Early Internet Age. As a result my blog is about to receive twice the normal number of visitors two days running, a feat achieved only once in the last five years (because unsocial media just doesn't have the influence these days). Wed 11: I took BestMate to show him Fassett Square, inspiration for TV's Albert Square, but his enthusiasm was diminished somewhat when a pigeon emptied its bowels on his head. Apologies. Thu 12: It's unusual for the government to grant a jubilee holiday at the end of the week. The queen's silver, golden and diamond jubilees were all Monday/Tuesday affairs, but platinum in 2022 is going to be celebrated Thursday/Friday (to ensure it ticks off 2nd June - Coronation day) Fri 13: Disturbed to find that multipack Kit Kats now come in a sealed plastic wrapper rather than the traditional paper sleeve around silver foil. Nestlé are apparently committed to making all their packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, so this switch to a disposable harder-to-open flow wrap is a retrograde step. An act of brandalism with the cold hand of a Swiss accountant all over it.
Sat 14: All the things I did, I blogged as haiku so I've, nothing else to say. Sun 15: I wasn't sure if I'm A Celebrity would work in the UK, and the opening stunts were definitely a downgrade, but the castle vibe actually works very well. Mon 16: A sculpture of a dog and a rabbit on a bike has appeared at Canary Wharf, entirely off the radar of the usual websites and social media influencers who'd normally be going nuts over it (because nobody's getting out and about any more). Tue 17: In a normal year I'd have been at my Auntie's funeral today. My Dad and brother made it, but I had to catch up on the eulogies digitally afterwards. Wed 18: My most successful tweet of the year, so far, is the one with the Oxford Circus station gaming logo (I wasn't promoting the genuine one, obviously). Thu 19: I walked around the Olympic Park for three hours, covering 9 miles, without once walking the same path twice. This spaghetti-like threading of walkways goes some way to explain why being restricted to my local area during lockdown hasn't driven me nuts. Fri 20: Email arrives... can we use your photo of the Cambodian Embassy in Willesden for our German school textbook? Yes of course, it'd be a pleasure. Sat 21: Apologies to my neighbours, that was my toaster which set off the smoke alarm, nothing serious. If nothing else it reminded me I have a crumb tray, and boy did it need emptying. Sun 22: Why have I never spotted the concrete roundel on top of Borough tube station before?
Mon 23: Birdwatching update: Back in the Olympic Park I'm sure I can see a burst of blue in the reeds on the other side of the river. Could it be an elusive kingfisher one more time? But it's not moving, and when I cross the bridge for a closer look I discover it's only a discarded plastic bag. Tue 24: A DG family Christmas normally involves 10 people from 7 households, so that's royally scuppered this year. Wed 25:Crisis at Christmas are setting up in a Poplar warehouse ready for this year's festive influx. They don't need any more volunteers in London but they'd certainly welcome £28.22 to give a homeless person a decent break. Thu 26: While walking the perimeter of E13, BestMate was keen to point out the house where the mafia boss supposedly lives, the former flat of someone he should have dated and the garage where... "Hang on, do you mind if I pop in and book my MOT?" Fri 27: At the Christmas tree concession in Victoria Park, up Lauriston way, I walked past a truck being unloaded and got a sharp whiff of spruce. Instant Christmassy twinges, such is the power of smell. Sat 28:Spotted at Limehouse Marina, this narrowboat. Best name I've seen in ages.
Sun 29: West Smithfield is a mess at the moment as builders set about repurposing its dilapidated shell into the new Museum of London. Carnivores of a heritage bent should visit in the next few months while it still looks like somewhere you'd rip a carcass apart rather than queue for the cafe. Mon 30: Nipped out early to buy 20 bottles of Beck's for Christmas. First time I've bought any alcohol since March. The supermarket price is the equivalent of 50p a bottle, rather than the £5 pubs tend to charge for a comfy seat and someone to take the top off for you.